The debut monograph of Stacey Gillian Abe’s work is created to accompany her first London solo show at Unit London. Featuring works spanning her career to date, the book explores the key themes from Abe’s work and delves deep into her expressive and symbolic indigo portraits.
Shrub-let of Old Ayivu includes insightful written contributions from Flavia Frigeri, art historian, lecturer and the Chanel Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, and Serubiri Moses, renowned writer and curator, alongside a conversation between the artist and Catherine Mckinley, curator and author of the critically acclaimed Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World and The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts.
Abe’s work reflects her past and her memories, highlighting her personal experiences and her relationships with her community. The autobiographical dimension of her work confronts traditional depictions of the Black body, challenging the colonial lens. Abe creates imaginary spaces that induce a surreal mystical feel while probing unsettling past and present narratives of identity, gender, spirituality and cultural mysticism. Renowned for her indigo skin-tone paintings, the colour has become crucial in reshaping narratives surrounding the Black body. Through the colour, she dives into the past to envision an alternative future for the Black race.
To Abe, indigo represents a tribe of people not limited to social, economic, cultural, political or historic constraints: ‘It is about being unapologetic’.
Text by Unit London, Flavia Frigeri, Serubiri Moses, Stacey Gillian Abe and Catherine Mckinley.
Design by Billie Temple and assistant design by Agatha Smith.
30 x 23.5 cm, portrait.
Published by Hurtwood Press.
Born in Kampala, Uganda, in 1990, Abe is an internationally celebrated artist. Selected exhibitions include Song of Songs (2021) and In the Round, Unit London (2022); The Power of My Hands at Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2021); Running – the New Contemporary, Qingdao Art Museum (2021); Empowerment, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg Museum (2022); and The Age of Identity: A Feminine Lexicon, Salvatore Ferragamo Museum (2022). Abe’s 2022 exhibition at Unit London, Shrub-let of Old Ayivu, marks her first solo exhibition in the city. The artist has been featured in publications including the Independent and the New York Times. Along with her numerous awards, in 2018 Abe was listed among the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Creatives.
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