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Rashaad Newsome’s neat west-side apartment is currently doubling as his studio.

Rashaad Newsome’s neat west-side apartment is currently doubling as his studio. Fake gold rope chains sit on the kitchen counter; a mountain of blinged-out jewelry, cut from magazines, holds court on a window ledge; and books on 16th- and 18th-century art are spread about.

They’re all part of the artist’s fascination with heraldry, which first appeared in his 2009 show “Standards” and has evolved further in his current solo show, “Honorable Ordinaries,” at Ramis Barquet.

“I started to research coats of arms, and I was really interested in how we also see them in pop culture,” says Newsome. “Heraldry is, essentially, collaging together what are called charges [the lion or unicorn on a shield] that represent social or economic status, and combining them to make this ultimate status symbol. So I started to think about what would be the charges of popular youth culture today.”

As the herald of our generation (he took a crash course at the London College of Arms) the 31-year-old recreates coats of arms using symbols of contemporary hip-hop culture — Bentleys, Ferraris, diamond chains, fitted baseball caps and even video girls — as a way to draw parallels between the two worlds while questioning concepts of race, class and sexuality.

For the sold-out “Honorable Ordinaries,” (which Kanye West had his cultural advisor check out), Newsome mounts these pieces in neo-classical frames — which he also tricks out.

“I’m thinking about framing,” he explains, “in terms of the concept of reframing this culture.”

Where to catch Newsome

Newsome’s work currently appears at his solo show at Ramis Barquet, the group show “Greater New York” at MoMA’s P.S. 1, and the group show “Free” at the New Museum. And stay tuned — we hear he’s got another exciting solo coming up soon.

“I’m really proud that I can have these different projects all be shown in different places at the same time,” Newsome says. “I think its really hard for an artist to work in various mediums — like video, performance — and make objects, and have it all be well received.”

 
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