On the cover: Detail from Third Time’s the Charm by Nina Chanel Abney
Can you talk us through the process of creating Third Time’s the Charm?
Although Third Time’s the Charm is a monoprint rather than an actual painting, the process of creating it is the same. I intuitively create the image, collaging elements together as I go until a full scene has unfolded.
Can you tell us anything about the themes in this work?
My preference lies in ambiguity for a number of reasons, but mostly because I do not want to disrupt the viewer’s first mind about the work. Our own implicit biases inform what we think and feel about the iconography of race, gender and sexuality and [the] symbols found in contemporary and digital language. This work, though, speaks about relationships but with no certain terms.
To what extent is the creation of your work driven by politics and your views on US society? Has your work changed under the Trump presidency?
My work is a direct reflection of the time in which it was created. And I pull my inspiration directly from the news and popular culture. My work regurgitates a lot of the information that I – and the world – take in on a daily basis. Under the Trump presidency, I have become less enthused to tune in to the news.
Who has influenced you as an artist?
Picasso and Matisse – two masters of their craft that definitely influenced me to embrace a stylised way of working. The two also inspired me to create distinct bodies of work that over time can show an evolution. [US painter] Robert Colescott influenced me by creating work that was socio-politically relevant while maintaining a sharp sense of humour. That tongue-in-cheek candour is something I have held onto thematically with my work from the beginning. I am also inspired by Henry Taylor’s ability to create work almost effortlessly. He has a focus that is enviable, with a painting technique that can only be described as genius.
What are your views on the current speed of the news media?
There’s so much information that comes at an individual. In one day, I may read the paper, watch the news, browse through YouTube, my Facebook and Instagram timelines, look at Twitter… This age of media overload means we take in massive amounts of information in rather short periods of time. I often wonder if it’s ever possible to digest it all. It’s no surprise there are all these self-care and mindfulness movements springing up in the attempt to become present with one’s thoughts and form original opinions.
Chanel Abney’s exhibition, Neon, is at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, until 25th June 2019. Her wall installation is on view at the ICA Boston until 15th March 2020 and her travelling exhibition, Royal Flush, is at the Neuberger Museum of Art in New York state until 30th June 2019.
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