Art Fairs






Tiwani Contemporary will present the work of US artist Umar Rashid who will premiere a new chapter from his nearly two-decade long narrative project: the epic historical saga of the Frenglish Empire - an imagined world superpower ruling in a parallel universe between 1658 - 1880. 


Featuring a cosmic, maritime, space opera, rooted in Afrofuturism, the booth will comprise new, unseen paintings, drawings and textiles and marks Rashid's debut solo presentation at the fair following his participation in Made in LA 2020: at the Hammer Museum. 


For Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, the gallery will present a new episode from the artist's transcontinental drama that mixes and riffs on actual events and invented histories. Over two centuries across the planet, the Frenglish Empire engages in military endeavours, political intrigues, dynastic alliances and significantly, colonial exploits and enterprises that arise out of survivalist and expansionist imperial policies. During its fraught course, the Frenglish also rub up against number of equally bellicose players all vying for power and influence including rival empires, states and organisations from vassals to allies whose moves and machinations are also explored by the artist. 


Titled in characteristic lengthy fashion, Rashid's forthcoming entry in his epic tale transports the real Haitian Revolution to Frenglish time and reads: 'U.T.F.O/ U.F.O (Unstoppable Force Organization / the Unidentified Foreign Objects). In the realm of revolution, the collaborator is king.  The end of the Antillean Wars, 1795.'   In the late 18th century in normal time, the profitable island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean had been cut into two European colonies - governed by France and Spain. An insurrection led by former slaves on the French colony of Saint Domingue led to the establishment of a new state - Haiti and the declaration of its independence from French rule in 1804 and eventual unification with the Spanish side in 1822.  Picking up after these actual events which have also played out in Frenglish time, the upcoming episode zooms in on the inability of the ruling government of Haiti to stamp out longstanding colonial influence - a policy vital for national unity and deals with the duplicitous nature of humanity. The U.T.F.O represents the indigenous opposition to self-rule independent of the colonial powers. Meanwhile, the U.F.O represents the agents and proxies of the former ruling colonial powers with ongoing interests in Haiti. "This effect echoes throughout history," says the artist. 


Umar Rashid’s epic image & text drama issues a sprawling panoply of fabulist detailing & whacky circumstance and in doing so it underscores the instability of the past, its record and our understanding of history’s mechanics.  A griot-like hoot that needs a disclaimer, his tale throws in bombast & volte-face at every turn twisting the integrity and place of a scene; nothing is ever as it seems. In remixing histories including but not limited to Western European, African and Ottoman, Rashid presents a revisionist & panoramic send-up of the early and late Modern periods and challenges the legacies & linearities of imperial and colonial historiographies and their influence on the construction of modernity.


Across painting, drawing, sculpture and writing, Rashid reveals pivotal moments and the ever-changing fortunes of a lively array of protagonists, both elite and quotidian, all peculiar to a highly novel parallel world. In the polyglot and multi-racial Frenglish world of the mid 17th and late 19th centuries, Rashid collapses time, geography and the real-life dichotomies of race, class, gender, religion, sexuality and power. His iconographic work synthesises comic culture, African cosmology, Egyptology, Classical mythology, Native American ledger art, hip hop, Persian miniature, Afrofuturism, grand history paintings and Renaissance portraiture. 



About The Artist


Umar Rashid was born in 1976 in Chicago, Illinois, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He earned his BA at Southern Illinois University in Cinema and Photography in 2000. 


Exhibitions include Blum & Poe (solo - 2021); Hammer Museum & Huntingdon Library (group - 2021), Tiwani Contemporary (solo - 2020), University of Arizona Museum of Art (solo - 2018), University of Memphis (solo - 2017), Hudson River Museum (solo - 2015); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, USA (solo 2014); Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, USA (solo -2013); the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, USA (solo 2013); the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, USA (solo -2013) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, USA (2012) 


His work is included in the collections of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAA), South Africa; Jorge Perez Collection, USA; Brooklyn Museum, USA; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, USA; The Progressive Collection, USA; 21C Museum Hotels, USA; the Nevada Museum of Art, USA; the Wellin Museum of Art, USA (USA) and The Mount Holyoke Art Museum, USA. 




π™’π™–π™¨π™π™žπ™£π™œπ™©π™€π™£ 𝙋𝙀𝙨𝙩: “Umar Rashid’s narrative paintings collapse past, present and future into a darkly comic vision of colonialism.” 


π˜Όπ™§π™©π™›π™€π™§π™ͺ𝙒 “Given the anachronisms, contrasting visual styles, and wildly complicated backstory, one might wonder how Rashid keeps his ambitious project so coherently together. What unifies his art is the warm dignity shared by his players and the spirit of triumph evident throughout: triumph in battle, but also the triumph of love, freedom, and the divine.” 


π™‰π™šπ™¬ 𝙔𝙀𝙧𝙠 π™π™žπ™’π™šπ™¨: “Mr. Two Feathers’s work asks viewers to …. reconsider the truth of recorded history. “ 


π™π™π™š π™‰π™šπ™¬ π™”π™€π™§π™ π™šπ™§ : “…the brisk functionality of a cocktail-napkin diagram inflected with the arch self-consciousness of a comic strip.”