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Nina Chanel Abney, "Crew," 2021

Nina Chanel Abney: Big Butch Energy

In “Big Butch Energy,” the artist Nina Chanel Abney offers her first official exploration of gender and sexuality through the lens of the college experience, and specifically Greek student life, as it is depicted in films. Curated by the ICA Miami’s Artistic Director Alex Gartenfeld, Abney’s vibrant signature—cubistic figures immediately recognizable as belonging to the artist—is employed in compositions that harness baroque portraiture traditions. Paired with references to college life (riffing off of scenes from comedies like Animal House and Porky’s) this stylistic juxtaposition presents a visually fun and engaging ground on which Abney offers her viewers a narrative paying homage to the figure of the Black masculine woman. Through collaged panel works such as Mama Gotta Have a Life Too and What I Wanted vs. What I Got, Abney’s narrative unravels a desire for social belonging and the precarious balance between the affected obscenity portrayed in popular film culture and the respectability politics that Greek student life may often demand. 

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On view at Gagosian is “Iconic Avedon: A Centennial Celebration of Richard Avedon” (January 22-March 4) connecting the artist to Paris.
This month, on view January 10-February 28, Stanley Whitney debuts his painting Dear Paris (2023) at Gagosian.

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