Umar Rashid (Frohawk Two Feathers)

For the past 17 years, the LA-based artist has documented the complex historical and episodic saga of a fictional world superpower – the Frenglish Empire. Between 1658 and 1880, the Frenglish rule a transcontinental area comprising dominions, protectorates and colonies including England, France, Turkey, India, the Caribbean, and Australia. Over the next two centuries, the Frenglish Empire engages in military endeavors, political intrigues, dynastic alliances, and significantly, colonial exploits and enterprises that arise out of survivalist and expansionist imperial policies. During its course, it comes up against a number of rival states agitating for power who emerge as significant players in the 18th century including its suzerain, the North American Belhaven Republic, and a recalcitrant Dutch republic, the Batavian Empire.

Across portraits, maps, flags, artifacts, vignettes and drawings, and other visual remnants of an imagined empire, Rashid reveals pivotal events and the ever-changing fortunes of a lively array of protagonists, both elite and quotidian, all peculiar to a highly novel parallel universe. In this polyglot and multi-racial world, Rashid collapses time, geography, and the real-life dichotomies of race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, and power. His iconographic work synthesizes comic culture, African cosmology, Egyptology, Classical mythology, Native American ledger art, hip hop, Persian miniature, Afrofuturism, grand history paintings, and Renaissance portraiture. In remixing myriad histories – some recognizable and others esoteric including but not limited to Western European, African, and Ottoman, Rashid offers a revisionist, forensic, and often humorous panorama of the early and late modern periods. His work challenges the legacies and linearities of imperial and colonial historiographies and their influence on the construction of modernity.

Works in the collection