Beyond the Canvas
Stacey Gillian Abe: Shrub-let of Old Ayivu - Unit, London
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
"Indigo, in my work, is an intersection between the body and identity as a continuous exploration. Indigo played a significant role in positioning the black body in the past and in facilitating its exchange. I'm interested in how much of that history has dragged on to today." - Stacey Gillian Abe
In African culture, indigo is seen as a symbol of protection. It's the colour that connects humans and the divine, and is often used to swaddle newborns. However, indigo, aka 'blue gold', was also used as a currency by slave traders. One length of dyed cloth in exchange for one human body.
Ugandan artist Stacey Gillian Abe paints the black skin of her women using translucent and seductive hues of indigo. The result is a as alluring as it is surreal. Her large canvases offer us scenes that are both intimate and powerful, .delicate and bold. Abe's masterful use of paint combined with hand-stitched patterns explores themes of memory and identity. By using indigo to render black skin, Abe challenges and subverts the historical narrative that is attached to this colour.
At Unit London until January 27th.
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