Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Nina Chanel Abney’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, which will be held in both our 513 West 20th Street and 524 West 24th Street galleries. The Great Escape explores the concept of a communal Arcadia, created for us, by us.
Is there space for Black autonomy in a world organized by white supremacy? If it were an actual place – a space absent of race relations, antagonistic or friendly – what would it look like? This series responds to these questions by reimagining Black people’s relationship to nature, property, and each other. Taking inspiration from the fugitive utopias of Black queer social life, these scenes refuse the enclosure of Blackness to topographies of the city and to ideals of heteronormativity. Instead, communal living in rural, wooded outdoors figures as a place for the performance of a Black autonomy that evades the ballistic force of the white gaze.
The art historical association of pastoral landscapes with whiteness is fraught; the deep history of expropriation, disenfranchisement, and value extraction that Black people have endured in relation to land requires us to interrogate white supremacist concepts of “belonging” as both property and propriety. Taking this terroristic history of white appropriation into account, these paintings propose idyllic scenes of Blackness steeped in care, cultivation, and collective leisure as a figuration of refuge and radical reparation.
– Nina Chanel Abney, November 2020
About the Artist
Abney was born in Chicago and currently lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her work is included in collections around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, curated by Marshall Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, was presented in 2017 at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina. It traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center (February 10–May 6, 2018) and then to Los Angeles, where it was jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum (September 23, 2018–January 20, 2019). The final venue for the exhibition was the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York (April 7–August 4, 2019). The exhibition was accompanied by a comprehensive, fully-illustrated hardcover catalog with critical essays by Price, as well as Jamillah James, curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Natalie Y. Moore, a South Side bureau reporter for Chicago Public Media, WBEZ; and Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke.
Upcoming exhibitions include Gordon Parks, opening on January 7, 2020.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.