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Nina Chanel-Abney: A Storyteller of Urban Life Comes to Neuberger Museum of Art

"Untitled (Yo 123)" by Nina Chanel-Abney (photo courtesy of Neuberger Museum of Art)
"Untitled (Yo 123)" by Nina Chanel-Abney (photo courtesy of Neuberger Museum of Art)

In celebration of Black History Month, Neuberger Museum of Art will present a solo exhibition of contemporary African-American artist Nina Chanel Abney. The exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, surveys the past decade of the artist’s work through approximately 30 mostly-large-scale narrative figurative paintings and collages.

Abney’s referential works make her a storyteller for the changing currents of contemporary urban life. Abney, basing her works on real events and people, often flips or merges plots and social imbalances in order to spotlight the chaotic nature of the typical news cycle. In one painting, she depicts a black cop arresting a white man, an inverse of the racial disparities often shared in current media coverage.

In fact, media fuels Abney’s work, as she intersects serious subject matter with a playful nature that keeps her works accessible to the viewer. The erratic yet purposeful jumble of bold and colorful shapes, figures and words that form on the canvas requires active engagement from the viewer, forcing them to approach the work, think critically about its symbolism and draw their own conclusions.

Organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, the Neuberger is the final stop on Royal Flush’s national tour. It will be on view from February 27 through June 30, with an opening reception on February 27. An artist talk on April 17 presents an opportunity to hear Abney discuss her work and its ever-timely narratives. For more info, visit neuberger.org.

A version of this article first appeared in the February issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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