Leasho Johnson

Master of Fine Arts in Studio, Painting and Drawing

Leasho Johnson (b.1984) is a visual artist working primarily in painting, collage, sculpture, and some digital medium. He was born in Montego-Bay but raised in Sheffield, a small town on the outskirts of Negril Jamaica. Johnson uses his experience growing up black, queer and male to explore concepts around forming identity and the post-colonial condition. Johnson is inspired by Jamaican Dancehall street culture, psychological interiorities, gender politics, Caribbean mythology, and trauma. He uses cartooning as a mode of abstraction to blur the distinction of stereotype and representation, geography and memory, to reveal or hide western contentions with the black body.

Working in a multiplicity of mediums, Leasho immortalizes the dynamic energy of the Dancehall and engages with black stereotypes and spectrums as expressed in Jamaican/Caribbean cultural practice. His characters often merged specific materials with new narratives around gender and identity, whilst utilizing both traditional and contemporary approaches around ancestral and personal stories. His interest sometimes comes from reinterpreting/interrupting the historical imagery of the Empire with contemporary realities. His work essentially explores the contestations and tensions in western culture around sexuality and seeks to explore contemporary meanings in context to historical truths.

Leasho Johnson is a recipient of the New Artist Society Scholarship from School of art institute Chicago (SAIC) 2018. Leasho has shown his work locally at several National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions, Young Talent, 2010; Jamaica Biennial 2012, 2014 and 2017, ‘We Have Met Before’, 2017, and New Local Space (NLS) ‘Belisario and the Soundboy’ 2016. Internationally Leasho has exhibited in ’Resisting Paradise’, Puerto Rico, Montreal, 2019, ‘Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora’, Bristol, UK 2016, ‘Jamaican Routes’, Oslo, Norway 2016, ‘Jamaica Jamaica’, Philharmonie, Paris and Brazil, 2017 and 2018. “Caribbean Queer Visualities”, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Ireland, 2016, ‘Of Skin and Sand’ National Gallery of Bahamas, 2017, and Third Horizon Film Festival, Miami 2017.