Above: Uman | Untitled, 2022; Samone, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Nicola Vassell Galley. Photo Lance Brewer.
In undertaking this collaboration on behalf of the critically admired Somalia-born, New York based painter and sculptor, Hauser & Wirth and Nicola Vassell hope to model a new kind of alliance between galleries operating at different scales—an approach wherein full transparency and intensive resource sharing can contribute to the further development of artists’ careers and the future health of the wider gallery ecosystem.
Both Nicola Vassell and Hauser & Wirth will present new paintings by Uman in their stands at the forthcoming edition of Art Basel Miami Beach (8 – 10 December). Their first jointly organized exhibition of Uman’s work will open to the public on 30 January 2024 at Hauser & Wirth in London, where the show will remain on view through 1 April 2024.
In October 2025, Uman’s first US museum solo exhibition will open at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart.
Uman’s ebullient visual vocabulary reflects her expansive cross-cultural experiences. Born in Somalia and raised in Kenya, she emigrated to Denmark as a teenager and later to New York as a young adult. Now living and working in upstate New York, Uman paints lavishly detailed, opulently colored worlds replete with gesture, geometry and evocations of the sublime. While these works are executed primarily with oil paint, she also combines acrylic paint, oil stick and collage techniques. An intuitive artist and voracious autodidact, Uman draws upon her memories of East African childhood, rigorous education in traditional Arabic calligraphy, deep engagement with dreams, and fascination with kaleidoscopic color and design. With nods to self-portraiture and fictional topographies, Uman’s paintings fluidly navigate in-between realms to explore both the physical and spiritual, intertwining abstraction, figuration, meditative patterning and a reverence for the natural world.
Nicola Vassell, Founder, Nicola Vassell Gallery, said: “It is with great pleasure that Nicola Vassell Gallery enters a new partnership with Hauser and Wirth to co-represent Uman. Together, we are pursuing an innovative model for collaboration in the interest of the artist and the future of her practice, while modifying the conventional approach to artist development and its, often, asymmetrical effects on the gallery ecosystem. Therein, Uman can deploy the strengths of both galleries, while we build synergy, ensuring a framework of parity and amplified advantage. Uman’s world, and by extension the power of her work, are ideal environments for such an idea to take root and flourish. Her fearlessness, discipline, curiosity and appetite for adventure, growth, and self- reflection are our guideposts—the shared ideals on which this alliance stands. Hauser and Wirth is a consummate and diligent collaborator. Nicola Vassell Gallery is thrilled to align with them on this trailblazing initiative.”
Marc Payot, President at Hauser & Wirth, said: “We are delighted to welcome Uman to Hauser & Wirth and embark upon this new partnership with Nicola Vassell Gallery to bring the artist’s work to wider audiences everywhere. Through her ebullient paintings and sculptures, Uman has developed a visual language in which sheer pleasure becomes an invitation for us to question what we see and what we take for granted, to consider that conventional boundaries and assumptions are illusions obstructing our fullest possible experience of the world. In the way she melds elements of fantastical landscapes and abstract symbolic patterns with allusive self-portraiture, her work finds echoes in that of many artists—both contemporary peers and historical predecessors—in our program. Not only is Uman a great addition to Hauser & Wirth, but Nicola Vassell is likewise an ideal first partner in our gallery’s new initiative to form joint representation alliances that can contribute to the health and sustainability of our field. Nicola’s values and vision align ideally with ours. It is a great honor to collaborate with her.”