Pretty much every mental health professional worth their salt is currently telling their patients that during a pandemic, it’s important to remember that productivity shouldn’t be your primary concern. However, for some creative types, being sequestered within one’s home is a perfect environment for generating artistic output. This Thursday, April 16, Hauser & Wirth gallery will debut a new online exhibition by the artist Rashid Johnson that puts coronavirus-induced mental anguish on full display. Johnson, a multimedia artist whose craft was honed at the Art Institute of Chicago, recently expanded his “Anxious Men” series to include newly-made works that address the fallout from the coronavirus in swaths of bright crimson. Fittingly, Johnson’s upcoming Hauser & Wirth exhibition is titled “Untitled Anxious Red Drawings.”
Even at the early stages of the pandemic, it seems that Hauser & Wirth has been prepared to show prescient and relevant artwork online. Johnson’s work, which he evidently managed to create quite quickly, is a welcome contribution to a cultural landscape that has been decimated by the horrific conditions of the invisible and pernicious virus. The artist’s Untitled Anxious Red Drawings series is energizing, to be sure, but there’s also a quality of harmony to these works that renders them perhaps more soothing than one might presume upon initial inspection.
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Evoking Cy Twombly’s Coronation of Sesostris series, what Johnson has created here is a cyclical exploration of the warlike, churning rhythms of the human mind under extreme duress. Additionally, the artist will be donating 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale of his works in this exhibition to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization, in tandem with Hauser & Wirth’s donation of 10 percent of its gross profits from all online exhibitions to the same organization. So truly, checking out this exhibition can only do you good.