Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, United States
16 Feb 2017 - 16 Jul 2017

Nina Chanel Abney, Incite (COM), 2015. Unique ultrachrome pigmented print, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas; 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.44 cm). Collection of Isis Heslin and Jacqueline T. Martin. Image courtesy of Kravets | Wehby Gallery, New York, New York. © Nina Chanel Abney.
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The Nasher Museum presents Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, the first solo exhibition in a museum for the Chicago-born artist. The exhibition is a 10-year survey of approximately 30 of the artist’s paintings, watercolors and collages.

Abney has also painted a large wall mural on the entrance wall of the exhibition. Abney, born in 1982, is at the forefront of a generation of artists that is unapologetically revitalizing narrative figurative painting, and as a skillful storyteller, she visually articulates the complex social dynamics of contemporary urban life.

“We are so excited to introduce this important young artist to wider audiences,” said Marshall N. Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and curator of the exhibition. “In her monumental paintings, Abney takes on some of the most pressing issues today from racial dynamics and criminal justice to consumerism and celebrity culture. Her seductive visual language is comprised of a jumble of figures, words and shapes to the point of information overload. With this as her backdrop, Abney creates paintings that explore some of the deeper recesses of human nature.”

Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush will travel to the Chicago Cultural Center, and then to Los Angeles, where it will be jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art and the California African American Museum.

The title of the exhibition is taken from a player’s most valuable hand in the game of poker. Royal Flush is something of double entendre. “It refers to Abney’s work, which contains iconography reminiscent of playing cards and the four different suits,” Price said. “But the title Royal Flush also suggests that the artist holds a valuable hand. When Abney ‘lays her cards on the table,’ she presents paintings rich in critical commentary and meaningful metaphor.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated, full-color catalogue published by the Nasher Museum. The catalogue includes many images that highlight Abney’s most important and iconic works of the past 10 years. The catalogue is edited by Marshall N. Price with essays by Price and also 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. Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush is distributed by Duke University Press and designed by Reneé Cagnina Haynes. The catalogue will be available at the Nasher Museum Store this spring.

The exhibition will complemented by free programs and events, including an opening party on Feb. 16; panel discussion on art, activism, race and the law on April 6; artist talk on April 11; film series; Family Day events; book discussions; Nasher Teen meetups; sketching in the gallery; teacher workshops and more. The Annual Semans Lecture will be delivered by Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on April 20.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is also supported by Ann Chanler and Andrew Scheman; Parker & Otis; Susan Rosenthal and Michael Hershfield; and Gail Belvett.