Art Forum: Leasho Johnson
Leasho Johnson is interested in Dancehall culture in Jamaica as a space exempt from many of the colonial and religious strictures that are considered important in mainstream Jamaican society. Through frequent visits into this urban space, Dancehall revealed itself as a space that defies gender, religious and sexual norms...a place of contradictions where queerness and homophobia can coexist, and where women empower themselves through sex. Though Dancehall and its attitudes largely define Jamaican identity in the world at large, there is still mystery and a lack of understanding of Dancehall even within local mainstream society. Johnson’s current body of work elucidates the hidden wildness behind this aspect of Jamaican culture, while attempting to process these contradictions and his own place in Jamaican society as a gay man from rural Jamaica. Johnson’s current body of work utilizes characters created (Pum-Pum), used as a parody that imitate and exaggerate the male and female gender roles found in the Jamaican Dancehall. Using imagery that is grounded in traditional realism juxtaposed with stylistic cartoons, he plays on the differences between the two styles. Johnson uses various media and formats such as Ceramics, mixed media, murals, street art, graphic design and found objects. Johnson’s work is heavily influenced by street art, toons and pop culture. He obtained a BFA at The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2009 in Visual Communication. He uses graphics to influence studio practice and development.