In the Frame takes a closer look at the multi-faceted, mystical portraiture of Stacey Gillian Abe to celebrate the release of her debut print release ‘What We Wanted’.
Stacey Gillian Abe is a Ugandan based artist born in 1990. Abe has presented work at exhibitions and fairs across the globe including 1:54 Fair New York and London, Stellenbosch Trienniale in Cape Town, IRL with Unit London, and The Power of My Hands at Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Abe’s mystical and lyrical portraits portray acts of becoming for the black subject, through intricate layers of personal and political storytelling.
ULE: What artists are your biggest influence?
SGA: Hmm, That’s a big question. My honest response is, I am looking introspectively at the moment and trying to create from that place. And I realise there is a deep-seated honesty to that. It allows my work the opportunity to morph.
ULE: What other sources of inspiration (besides art) influence your work?
SGA: Peculiar things besides art influence my work process and many times in the weirdest of ways, they are ephemeral, ethereal and particular. With the work taking on an autobiographical approach, these things are not limited to recollecting a particular incident or references to history. It could be as random as a trigger in the form of a sweet scent that reminds me of a place, someone or a time. It might also just be a conversation with someone or emotions surrounding that situation. There is no saying in what direction these triggers will drive my mind. I notice my mind likes indulging in these tiny details, and when it happens, I pause and savour them.
ULE: What inspired ‘What We Wanted’ in particular?
SGA: Feelings of euphoria surrounded the process and idea around creating that particular body of work to say the least.
ULE: What does the use of indigo for the skin tone represent in your work?
SGA: Indigo for a skin tone in my work signifies a tribe, a breed of black, a people that are not limited to social, economic, cultural or political and historic constraints. It is being unapologetic and expressing vulnerability selflessly. It is the ability to thrive and truly live in one’s own likeness, in a world that does not justify inequality of all forms.
ULE: What has drawn you to the medium of painting?
SGA: I realise now that through painting, I am able to fully express my ideas limitlessly, that I am able to completely and openly explore channels in my work that other mediums would limit otherwise.
ULE: How do you feel about translating your work into print, and how do you feel this sits within your body of work?
SGA: When I think about translating my work into print, I think about archiving. For me it is the most tangible way of archiving a body of work like a painting. In this case (What We Wanted,2022) will in the future become an important tangible archive of one of my early works.
However, I am not keen on the idea of creating prints as a continuous process. This process had to make sense to the artist, it had to make sense to this particular body of work and it had to make sense to this time, in particular. If I am not able to respond to these questions, then I have no reason translating them further. I think it is also special to just create a painting and leave it at that.
‘What We Wanted’ is available exclusively at Unit London Editions, dropping on Thursday 28th July. Register here for further updates and information on the release.
Stacey Gillian Abe
What We Wanted