Rashaad Newsome "Herald" Exhibit Mixes Hip Hop and High Art
Art lovers will want to check out “Herald;” multimedia artist Rashaad Newsome’s first solo exhibition at Chelsea’s Marlborough Gallery in New York City. The New York Times caught up with the New Orleans native who explained how elements of heraldry and hip-hop comprise his style.
But what is heraldry anyway? The Times’ Melena Ryzik described it as “centuries of European tradition” — read crowns, shields, coats of arms and other “richly detailed symbols of achievement, status and clan.” A typical Newsome piece updates these symbols with bits of hip-hop, pop and African American culture, like Black Barbie, 2011 inspired by Nicki Minaj.
Hip-hop and heraldry could be considered worlds apart, but Newsome draws clear parallels between the two.
“A coat of arms is really a collage of objects that represent social status and economic status and status as a warrior,” he told the New York Times, “so they’re kind of like portraits without using the figure.” “Everybody wants to be the king of hip-hop,” he added.
Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1 who worked with Newsome on last year’s “Greater New York” exhibition sang his praises.
“He is very much a child of this generation who embraces everything that moves and is pop and is music, and puts it in a blender and makes it their own, so I’m impressed by that,” Biesenbach said.
“Herald” opened up last week and will run until December 3rd, featuring collages, videos and installations. Also connected to the show is November 2nd’s Rap Joust at Performa; the New Visual Art Performance Biennial. The first of the Festival’s kind, the tournament promises winners cash prizes and inclusion on Newsome’s mixtape. Judges include Alanna Heiss, the former director of PS1; Charlie Ahearn, the director of “Wild Style;” Chris Chambers of The Chamber Group; and model Andre J.
But Newsome isn’t just interested in representing hip hop in his art, he also wants to start a greater conversation between the art world and mainstream hip-hop culture. Recently Basquiat and Warhol references on “Watch The Throne” gave a glimpse of what it looks like when these scenes diverge.
“You start to meet these collectors and things like that — there’s so many people in the world of my reference point that don’t participate in that,” Newsome said, “and I would like for them to participate. I think it would really drastically change the artwork.”