Rashaad Newsome portrays culture -- Rap, Hip Hop, bling and booty, all that -- with extraordinary flair and formality. He is unrelenting. He appropriates, pushes and plows through volumes of data, and achieves brilliance, and there is no end in sight. As an art world figure, he is potent, powerful, precise, and poised to break through to the top as other multi-talented innovators have done before him.
At the opening of Herald, the mean age of the attending throngs was much younger than I am used to seeing. But it wasn’t just the fact that the crowd was younger, it’s that they were more engaged, much more enthralled than I am used to seeing; a bona fide buzz was in the air that carried out onto the streets.
One part of Mr. Newsome’s output -- performance art, dance and original mixes (Swag) -- comes in the form of five videos that are some of the best film work I’ve seen in over a decade. Pulsating digital imagery, vibrant dancers, retro elegance, emotional and sexual confidence and credence -- it’s all there, and it will engulf and guide your thinking for some time after you leave the exhibition.
The bulk of the exhibition is comprised of a number of coats of arms and heraldic badges (Herald) that are colorfully and elaborately framed collages with central/overall compositions filled with a slick and bright bounty. Taking pages from current hip-hop magazines, car, plane and yacht images, and sprinkling in photographs from auction catalogs of vintage jewelry, Mr. Newsome bobs and weaves his way through a continuous stream of hip-hop centric iconography that will leave you with a lasting feeling of dizzying energy.
All of the work has incredible impact. Message and meaning explode off the wall, propelled by the unmistakable iconography of a powerful culture, while the incredible intricacy and color of the custom-made frames fuel the fires that burn brightly on this one especially windy autumn evening.
Rashaad Newsome is a force to be reckoned with. - D. Dominick Lombardi
Shown: "37th Chamber" (2011)
Mr. Lombardi is an artist with representation at the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, a writer with Public Art and Ecology (Shanghai), Sculpture, and d'ART, and an independent curator.