Beautifully Absurd: Nina Chanel Abney | 30 Days Unchained : Day 13 Tuesday 22 January, 2013

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30 Days Unchained/#30unchained | Day 13 – 1/22/13 | Inspiration: Nina Chanel Abney Playfully sinister and visually complex Nina Chanel Abney masters the art of duality in her large-scale paintings. On the one hand, her art is inviting and energetic, with bright colors and cartoon-like figures. However, when you look closer, you realize some of […]

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30 Days Unchained/#30unchained | Day 13 – 1/22/13 | Inspiration: Nina Chanel Abney

Nina Chanel Abney


Playfully sinister and visually complex Nina Chanel Abney masters the art of duality in her large-scale paintings. On the one hand, her art is inviting and energetic, with bright colors and cartoon-like figures. However, when you look closer, you realize some of those characters are up to no good, as Nina’s paintings critique everything from sexuality, racism, entertainment gossip and pop culture in contemporary American culture. When asked about her artwork, Nina describes it as: “easy to swallow, hard to digest… I love the fact that anything taboo suddenly becomes tolerable as long as it’s not ‘real’.”

The Huffington Post describes the art in Nina’s recent exhibition “I Dread to Think”  as: “a weirdo cast of baby aliens, soaring rainbows and undecipherable symbols. [Abney’s] paintings capture the tension, beauty and absurdity of the Internet age.” 

Nina doesn’t create with an amateurish attempt to shock or attempt to tell a story explaining what’s wrong with the world and why. While Nina’s work has also been described as racy, she says: “I never meant to be rebellious in a disrespectful manner. I just needed to paint by emotion and instinct rather than paint out of docility.When you stand inside Nina’s exhibition space, you’ll feel as if you’ve landed inside her head, surrounded by a range of conflicting images, emotions and people you don’t know if you should trust or celebrate; You really feel everything she sincerely dreads to think. Nina’s personal reflection that she never meant to be “disrespectful in a rebellious way” is the inspiration for today’s challenge…

Challenge (Find, Create, or Remix an Image that Answers the Question): What does artistic rebellion mean to you?

Share your image(s) on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained and use the hashtag #30unchained so we can shout you out! Be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterest and Twitter to keep up with the latest #30unchained news.

 

“Beeline,” Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 30

Live Unchained: What made you want to become a painter?

Nina Chanel Abney: My love for art and my hate for the “9 to 5” drove me to seriously pursue painting as a career. I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child. But it wasn’t until graduate school that everything started to come full circle for me. My boundless imagination and I moved to a place where “anything goes.” Prior to coming to New York, I had a very limited view of who an artist was; I had a very limited view of art in general. I had never been into a gallery. I had no idea how artists made a living. I had no notion of contemporary art.

Most of the schools I attended insinuated that a “good” artist was one that could draw and paint realistically. And though that was what was typically taught, because my gut told me differently, I began a mission to find my own truth. And that started by me purposely doing the opposite of what my art teacher expected. As a fifth grader, I remember having to paint Rene Magritte’s “The False Mirror” as an assignment, and I turned in a painting of a bloody eyeball. And from then on I continued to push the limits of my assignments and my teacher’s buttons by doing my own thing.

And I never meant to be rebellious in a disrespectful manner. I just needed to paint by emotion and instinct rather than paint out of docility.

“Country Ken,” Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 20

 

Untitled (Diptych), Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 72

LU: I like that your art has bold and playful qualities, but I also find it a bit mysterious… How would you describe your artwork?

NCA: Easy to swallow, hard to digest. The playfulness of my work is a result of my use of vivid colors and my interest in satirical cartoons. I love the fact that anything taboo suddenly becomes tolerable as long as it’s not “real”. I’m a huge fan of The Family Guy because of their ability to spoon feed their audience touchy topics with the use of humor and animation. If it were a sitcom with actual actors, they would no longer be on television.

And as far as the mystery…I personally find the artwork that I am mostly drawn to is work that keeps you guessing and keeps you coming back for more. I enjoy work that doesn’t give me a definite answer, but challenges me answer my own questions. I cannot even sketch an idea for a painting because the definitive nature of the act itself would make me lose interest in the painting before it’s begun, so I couldn’t possibly expect the viewer to want to continuously look a painting that is too literal.

During the opening of my second solo exhibition, “Emma’s Basement”, there was a woman who came into the gallery, stood in front of my painting, “Null and Void,” and left with a look of utter disgust. She then came back about 10 minutes later, and I knew then my work was doing exactly what I wanted it to.

Nina Chanel Abney Law and Order, 2010 Acrylic on canvas 65 ½ x 74 1/4″

LU: When looking at your work there appears to be layers to the narrative, which I find really interesting. Is there usually a specific story that you wish to be conveyed in a piece? 

NCA: When I begin a painting, I never have a specific story in mind. I usually have a few general topics that I want to start a discussion about, or attempt to resolve for myself. And in that process I usually end up with a lot of contradictions. It is not until then that I meld together all of these disjointed elements to create a narrative or multiple narratives. And to adhere to the mysterious quality of my work, in my most sinister voice, I say, “I NEVER share the stories!” ☺

LU: Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

NCA: Living unchained for me is living for myself without regrets and obligation.

This interview is excerpted from a full feature with the artist. View the original article here

30 Days Unchained/#30unchained is an interactive creative countdown to the Live Unchained Anniversary Celebration . Everyday for 30 days, we’ll share some of our most popular interviews with Live Unchained featured artists. They include women creatives of various disciplines from across the African diaspora. Her creative journey will be the inspiration for your challenge. To participate simply respond to the challenge question with images (not words). Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained so we can shout you out – it’s that simple. Learn more about 30 Days Unchained, including rules and prizes hereGet your daily challenge from Thursday, January 10th through the day of the big bash on Friday, February 8th at www.liveunchained.com.

Written by Kathryn Buford and Aleyna Jones

 

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3 Comments

  • trevor says:

    An incredibly intriguing, imaginative, and provocative artist who comes correct in her work and purpose.

    Thank you for sharing this collaboration with us :)

    Always inspired and moved by the narrative, perspective, and insight that you all bring…

    Continue growing as artists Aleyna, Nina, and Kathryn and never hold back!

  • Harold says:

    If you desire to grow your familiarity just keep visiting this site
    and be updated with the latest news update posted here.

  • Yo simplemente sólo podía no salir Web antes de antes
    sugiriendo que yo realmente realidad disfruté el
    estándar info un individuo suministro en su huéspedes ?
    Se va a haber atrás cesar a inspeccione Buscar mensajes nuevos


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