HypeArt: Umar Rashid Paints the Fictitious History of the Frenglish Empire

November 9, 2021

Shawn Ghassemitari

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Umar Rashid is a painter and storyteller who draws from disparate cultures to create alternative historical narratives. Also known by his alias Frohawk Two Feathers, Rashid presents his first solo exhibition with Los Angeles’ Blum & Poe, titled “En Garde / On God.”

Rashid recounts the fictitious history of the Frenglish Empire (1648-1880) through a series of large-scale paintings and sculptures. The work is replete with iconography — from art historical references, such as Renaissance portraiture and Persian Miniatures; visual lexicon from the canons of colonialism, to modern-day hip-hop of the 1980s and ’90s. Although each piece carries a lighthearted charm that draws you in, the complex narratives begin to complicate what is actually true and false in much of the histories that are taught in the world.

This is where the artist’s mastery takes place. Understanding the role humor can play in representing history for a new generation eager to overcome the mistakes of the past. Rashid’s penchant for storytelling was imbued in him as he studied cinema and photography at Southern Illinois University. “En Garde / On God” will be on view at Blum & Poe until December 18.

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