Ancien Regime Change 4, 5, and 6
Through his multidisciplinary practice—including paintings, drawings, textiles, and a new multimedia sculpture being created for this exhibition—Umar Rashid draws on both history and fantasy to create epic narratives that examine how political and cultural power is established and might be undone. Rashid’s first solo museum exhibition in New York City features over 30 new works that mark the final chapters of his ongoing series, Ancien Regime Change. The series looks back to the 18th century and its colonial regimes, exploring a critical period of global upheaval and modern transformation through extensive research. For the new works featured in the exhibition, Rashid draws specifically on the history of New York.
Using a range of sources, Rashid’s work spans real and fictional empires, as well as figures from antiquity to popular culture. In his compositions, Rashid traverses periods, geographies, and cultures, citing sources including 18th century European manuscripts, byōbu (Japanese screen painting), Persian miniatures, Yoruba deities, ancient Egyptian cosmologies, and American rappers. Rashid’s research-based process frees historical events from dominant narratives, and instead proposes counternarratives and critical fabulations. Figures move between works, battles are fought, winners capture their spoils, losers retreat, and the narrative pushes forth. By foregrounding Black and brown people in his paintings, Rashid references the erasure of the key roles that historically marginalized people have played in the construction and deconstruction of Western histories. Within his practice, many positions and references collide to reveal multiplicities across places and times, breaking free from a static past into one that is continuously being reshaped in the present.