Leasho Johnson

(b. 1984, Montego Bay, Jamaica). Since graduating with a BFA in Visual Communication at The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2009, Johnson has participated in several local and international exhibitions.

Johnson is a founding member of the Dirty Crayons collective, which began organizing bi-annual group exhibitions in 2012. In 2014, Johnson was selected as an artist in residence at Ateliers ‘89 in Oranjestad, Aruba, also participating in the residency’s Caribbean Linked III exhibition. That same year, he was  an invited panelist in the Caribbean Queer Visualities Symposium organized by Small Axe at Yale University, Connecticut, USA.

One of Johnson’s  recent exhibitions, Jamaica Routes, was held at the Punkt Ø Gallerie in Moss, Norway, in 2015. The exhibition was curated by Selene Wendt and paid homage to the Jamaican-born cultural theorist Stuart Hall.

Artistic Statement

Jamaican Dancehall culture is vibrant, dynamic and often times controversial. It is relevant to contemporary Jamaican youth and informs political, social and racial views in Jamaica. However, though Dancehall and its attitudes largely define the perception of Jamaican identity in the world at large, there is still a lack of understanding about this urban ideology. My current work attempts to elucidate both the hidden wildness within this aspect of Jamaican culture and my own place in society as a gay man from rural Jamaica.

This work utilizes characters I’ve created, named Pum-Pum, that imitate and exaggerate male and female gender roles found in Jamaican Dancehall. My work is influenced by Street Art, cartoons and pop culture, as well as graphics. I juxtapose imagery grounded in traditional realism with stylistic cartoons, playing on the differences between the two styles, while utilizing various media and formats such as ceramics, mixed media, murals, street art, graphic design and found objects.

Residency Unlimited (RU), Brooklyn, New York. September – November 2016

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