This catalogue accompanies the exhibition Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, a ten-year survey of one of the most provocative and iconoclastic artists working today. Abney is at the forefront of a generation of artists that is unapologetically revitalizing narrative figurative painting, and as a skillful story-teller, she visually articulates the complex social dynamics of contemporary urban life. Her works are informed as much by mainstream news media as they are by animated cartoons, video games, hip-hop culture, celebrity websites, and tabloid magazines. She draws on these sources to make paintings replete with figures, numbers, and words that appear to have tumbled onto the canvas with the stream-of-consciousness immediacy of text messages, pop-up windows, a Twitter feed, or the scrolling headlines of an incessant twenty-four-hour news cycle. By engaging loaded topics and controversial issues with irreverence, humor, and lampooning satire, Abney’s works are both pointed contemporary genre scenes as well as scathing commentaries on social attitudes and inequities.
Abney’s first solo museum exhibition, Royal Flush will be comprised of the artist’s large-scale paintings, along with smaller collages and watercolors. While her work has strong ties to important modernist forebears such as Robert Colescott, Stuart Davis, Romare Bearden, and Faith Ringgold, among others, its distinct and arresting visual articulation of the human condition is inherently suited to the rapid-fire and unceasing quality of the Digital Age. Her dense and colorful iconography, a skillful engagement with serious issues, and the provocative way in which she addresses them has brought this young artist increasing critical acclaim in the contemporary art world.