WHETHER ITS THE BREAKING NEWS or a song she recently heard, Nina Chanel Abney is inspired by contemporary events and meaningful moments that often find their way into her work and may spontaneously define or change its direction.

A new generation storyteller, Abney blends abstraction and figuration. Her images draw on the public discourse, music, video games, Google searches, and vintage cartoons. The seemingly random compositions reflect urban life, address provocative topics, and echo our fast-paced, media-driven culture.

Her latest body of work is a series of large-scale monoprints debuting tomorrow in a solo exhibition at Pace Prints in New York. The works explore a variety of subjects, including gentrification and housing discrimination; gender and identity issues; and America’s racially charged politics of division.

“I am dealing with a lot of subjects, issues that are typically hard to talk about. My goal is to basically take these touchy topics and present them in a way that’s visually appealing that would get the viewer to interact with something that they might not normally want to,” said Abney, talking about her new prints in the video below.

When discussing her work, she prefers not to dive too deep into the issues she raises in order to give viewers the opportunity make their own interpretations.

“I am dealing with a lot of subjects, issues that are typically hard to talk about. My goal is to basically take these touchy topics and present them in a way that’s visually appealing…” — Nina Chanel Abney


Nina Chanel Abney talks about the experience of making her first body of monoprints. | Video by Pace Prints

 

BORN IN CHICAGO, Abney lives and works in New York. “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” her first solo museum exhibition is currently on view in Los Angeles, where it is being co-presented at the California African American Museum and Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles through Jan. 20, 2019. The survey of paintings and collages travels to its final destination, the Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College, State University of New York, in April 2019.

Over the course of her decade-long professional practice, Abney has simplified her painting style, employing a universal language of symbols, shapes, and color paired with near life-size figures. The iconographic approach naturally lends itself to printmaking.

Abney has made a few small-sized prints before, but this is the first time she has embarked on a major print project. The new series of monumental works features nine monoprints—three are single panels and the others are multi-paneled, including “Ooh la la,” a five-panel work that is nearly 17-feet long.

“Ooh la la,” which depicts a two disembodied black male heads gazing at the a pair of nude white female figures, resembles a site-specific wall painting Abney made earlier this year for “Hot to Trot. Not.,” her Palais de Tokyo exhibition in Paris, earlier this year.

Abney’s prints are among the largest Pace has created. She said the collaborative process of printmaking with the Pace team was “amazing” and she is hooked.

“It allows me to work faster and, because I can work faster, I am able to try more things that I probably wouldn’t be able to try in the studio by myself. So it allows me to experiment a lot more and try a lot more new things,” Abney said. “I addicted now. I think I will always have this as part of my practice.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Let’s Work, Let’s Play, Let’s Live Together,” 2018 (diptych monoprint, Overall dimensions, 68 1/2 x 84 inches). | © Nina Chanel Abney, Courtesy the artist and Pace Prints

 

Nina Chanel Abney’s exhibition is on view at Pace Prints, New York, N.Y. from Oct. 26 – Dec. 15, 2018.

READ MORE about Nina Chanel Abney’s work on her website

 

BOOKSHELF
“Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush” accompanies the artist’s 10-year survey organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The fully illustrated catalog features written contributions by Marshall N. Price, Richard J. Powell, Natalie Y. Moore, Sarah Schroth, and a conversation with Abney conducted by Jamillah James.

 


NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Ooh La La,” 2018 (five-panel monoprint, overall dimensions, 66 1/4 x 198 5/8 inches). | © Nina Chanel Abney, Courtesy the artist and Pace Prints

 


NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Fast Draw,” 2018 (triptych monoprint, Overall dimensions, 59 5/8 x 108 1/2 inches). | © Nina Chanel Abney, Courtesy the artist and Pace Prints

 


NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Third Time’s the Charm,” 2018 (Four-panel monoprint, Overall dimensions, 66 1/4 x 139 5/8 inches). | © Nina Chanel Abney, Courtesy the artist and Pace Prints

 

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