Leasho Johnson was born in St James, Jamaica, in 1984. He attended the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where he obtained a BFA in Visual Communication in 2009. He is a founding member of the Dirty Crayons collective, which held local group exhibitions in 2012 and 2013. Johnson’s other exhibitions include Young Talent V (2010, National Gallery of Jamaica); Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora (2016, Bristol, United Kingdom); and the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Biennials since 2010. He has also participated in a number of artist residencies. In 2016, he participated in an artists’ residency at Bluecoat, a contemporary arts centre in Liverpool, United Kingdom, and he was awarded a residency at Residency Unlimited in New York City by the Davidoff Art Initiative. Johnson works in various media to explore the tensions and contestations in Jamaican culture and society, particularly in dancehall and its associated tropes. He resides in Kingston, Jamaica.
About the Work
Leasho Johnson is the youngest artist in We Have Met Before and presents a visually and conceptually explosive mix of history and contemporary popular culture, with strong references to Dancehall and graffiti. Like the other three artists, he often uses historical source material – visual material in his case – but forces this into a dialogue with a repertoire of cartoon-like female and gender-ambivalent figures in various provocative poses, other recurrent characters such as fighting and copulating dogs, and sexual metaphors such as bananas, sugar cane, palm trees and fish. In some of his recent work, drowned bodies with provocatively placed palm tree extensions become sexualized tropical islands, reminiscent of the violent histories of the Caribbean archipelago. Johnson examines the politics of sexual objectification and the contradictions of gender and sexuality in contemporary Jamaican culture and not only points to the roots of these issues in the histories of colonization, slavery, exploitation and social inequality, but also acknowledges their revolutionary potential in the present as an agent of social change.
Leasho Johnson website: www.leasho.com