Monday 17th October 2016

After reading an interview in the July edition of Juxtapoz magazine, I fell in love with the work of Nina Chanel Abney, and what she said really resonated with me. The interview is titled ‘Mad Explosive Spontaneity’ and was conducted by Kristin Farr.

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Top: ‘Hothouse’, Middle: ‘Untitled’, Bottom: ‘Why’. Last 2 from ‘Always A Winner’ series. She largely works with acrylics and spray paints.

Here are some quotes from the article:

Intro of article: Fire and energy radiate in Nina Chanel Abney’s spellbinding work, which is timely, but not transient. She creates catalysts for substantive, political dialogue firmly rooted in humour, abstract ideas, and the raw experience of life- essentially all the elements of staying power. Carefully crafted visual mash-ups demand your gave as veiled symbols reveal  themselves slowly. If you feel uncomfortable, it says more about you than the art. They throw that question right back at you. What are you about?’

N: “I feel like I am regurgitating the information I take in directly onto the canvas and distilling it when I evaluate the end result.” “my work has been described as ‘easy to swallow, hard to digest'”

Does each painting have a narrative, or are they more like abstractions of an overall conversaion?

– “A lot of my earlier work had a specific message, but now my paintings are definitely like abstractions of a conversation I want to have. I’ve become more interested in mixing disjointed narratives and abstraction, and finding interesting ways to obscure any possible story that can be assumed when viewing my work. I want the work to provoke people to formulate their own ideas surrounding the different subjects in my work.”

I see the work “No” show up a lot.

– “Works like ‘No’, ‘Stop’, ‘Yes’, and ‘Go’ make people pay attention, sometimes stopping them in their tracks. I create very busy paintings, so sometimes I feel it’s necessary to use these words to create small moments of pause, or to attempt to bring your attention to something specific”

Are there artists you admire who make you want to challenge yourself more?

– “Picasso, Léger, Stuart Davis, Matisse, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Peter Saul all inspire me to create as much work as I can and work harder in the studio. I am also motivated by any artist who works diligently. I love visiting other artists. I am inspired every time.”

Do your paintings tell you what to do?

– “Absolutely. A great example of this is that it would be extremely difficult, nearly impossible, for me to recreate my earlier work. My process is completely intuitive and I definitely just go with what my hand naturally does, and I do think the paintings guide me.”

“Before I create a paintings, I usually have a general idea of what I want to discuss within the work, but because I work intuitively, the ideas are simultaneously changing and evolving until the painting is complete.”

Do you have TV on while you paint?

– “Yes, I either watch TV, listen to music, podcasts, or watch documentaries on Netflix. Sometimes it just serves as background noise. Other times, I put things on in the studio that are relevant to whatever I’m working on.”

Do you always like your newest work most?

– “Typically, yes, because it’s most indicative of where I am currently at in my life. And the newest work is usually more confident that the last work. I usually have resolved an issue in some way. However, overall, I am never completely satisfied with any painting becasue I always find something that I could’ve done differently or better.”

An interesting article about her life and ‘Always A Winner’ pieces:

An interesting video about the ‘Always A Winner’ pieces:


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