Leasho Johnson - The Art of Being Queer - Artist Feature

Tonight’s queer artist feature is Leasho Johnson

“All images are courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary”

Trelawny

Charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, oil, gesso on paper

mounted on canvas

11.5 x 14.5 x 2 inches

2020


Only when it's dark enough can you see the stars LEASHO JOHNSON



Jamaica-born queer artist of Leasho Johnson (@leasho_johnson) debuts new paintings in his first solo show at FLXST Contemporary (@flxstco) that explore his experiences with black queer masculinity, memories, desire, and blackness as a light in moments of crises The show’s title Only when it's dark enough can you see the stars references Dr. Martin Luther King’s last speech before he was assassinated in 1968. For Leasho, the quotation and now title gestures at the transformative potential of blackness and identity. In these current times of racial unrest, queer black bodies are disproportionately the targets of racial and anti-queer violence. These are dark times, indeed, but for Leasho, queer black bodies and blackness itself hold the potential for “the stars” to become visible—the stars are a metaphor for change, inclusion, and liberation. Johnson states, “I hope to create, from this dark place, an origin story, the lotus sprouting from the muddy depths of its dark womb to greet the light.” Leasho’s show runs until October 25, 2020.


“All images are courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary”

Sweet Boy

Charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, Gold foil, oil and gesso

on paper mounted on canvas

11.5 x 14.5 x 2 inches

2020


BIOGRAPHY Leasho Johnson (b. 1984) is a visual artist working in paintings, collage, sculpture, street art, and digital medium. He was born in Montego-Bay but raised in Sheffield, a small town on the outskirts of Negril, Jamaica. Johnson uses his experience growing up black, queer, and male to explore concepts around forming identity and the postcolonial condition. Johnson is inspired by Jamaican Dancehall street culture, psychological interiorities, gender politics, Caribbean mythology, and trauma. He uses cartooning as a mode of abstraction to blur the distinction of stereotype and representation, geography and memory, and to reveal or hide western contentions with the black body.


“All images are courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary”

The thing to fear was the thing that made her beautiful, and not us

Charcoal, watercolor, distemper, oil, gesso on paper

mounted on canvas

25.5 x 33.5 x 2 inches

2020


Working in a multiplicity of mediums, Leasho immortalizes the dynamic energy of the Dancehall and engages with black stereotypes and spectrums as expressed in Jamaican/Caribbean cultural practice. His characters often merged specific materials with new narratives around gender and identity whilst utilizing both traditional and contemporary approaches around ancestral and personal stories. His interest sometimes comes from reinterpreting/interrupting the historical imagery of the British Empire with contemporary realities. His work centers the contestations and tensions in western culture around sexuality and seeks to explore contemporary meanings in context to historical truths.


“All images are courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary”

Deloris

Charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, oil stick, oil and gesso on

paper mounted on canvas

11.5 x 14.5 x 2 inches

2020


Leasho Johnson is a recipient of the New Artist Society Scholarship from School of Art Institute Chicago (SAIC) in 2018. Leasho has shown his work locally in Jamaica at several National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions, Young Talent, 2010; Jamaica Biennial 2012, 2014, and 2017, We Have Met Before, 2017, and New Local Space (NLS) Belisario and the Soundboy, 2016. Internationally Leasho has exhibited in Resisting Paradise, Puerto Rico, Montreal, 2019, Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora, Bristol, UK, 2016, Jamaican Routes, Oslo, Norway, 2016, Jamaica Jamaica, Philharmonie, Paris and Brazil, 2017 and 2018. Caribbean Queer Visualities, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Ireland, 2016, Of Skin and Sand, National Gallery of Bahamas, 2017, and Third Horizon Film Festival, Miami 2017.


“All images are courtesy of the artist and FLXST Contemporary”

Method of endurance Charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, oil, gesso on paper mounted on canvas 25.5 x 33.5 x 2 inches 2020


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