My insides.
My insides. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth
At first glance, the Untitled Anxious Men Drawings by Rashid Johnson look like chaotic abstract messes. A burst of energy expressed through a bright blood red. But on closer inspection, the work is composed of rows of "anxious men," whose box-like faces, wide eyes, and clenched teeth communicate an emotion that falls somewhere between anxiety and anger.

Johnson created this small series—accessible in New York gallery Hauser & Wirth's online viewing room—during quarantine as an expansion on the work from his previous 2015 show, Anxious Men. Cameron Shaw of the New York Times has described these men as "on the verge of a breakdown — messy, cartoonish, stressed out, brutalized," a reflection of what it often feels like to be Black in America.

Those feelings of anxiety easily translate to now, when the pandemic has created a deep uncertainty about the future and our lives, isolating us from one another. The messy chunkiness of the paintings (they are composed of oil on cotton rag) and the red color ("Nothing feels more urgent than red," says Johnson) underscores our apprehension. It's loud and cathartic.

Coupled with the small exhibition are recipe, music, and TV recommendations, a Zoom background, and a playlist to feel like you're connected during this time at home. This is about as fun as it gets friends! Check out more of Rashid Johnson's Untitled Anxious Men Drawings here.

I am a serious art critic.
I am a serious art critic. JK

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