Gabriella Nugent

Gabriella Nugent


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Personal profile

Academic Background

Gabriella Nugent is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Art History and World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia. She is an art historian and curator, specialising in modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on the work of artists in Africa and its diaspora since the early twentieth century. Her research documents and analyses cross-cultural interactions and themes of colonialism, decolonisation and globalisation.

Her current book project, titled Making, Unmaking and Remaking: The Politics of Difference in Contemporary Art, explores expectations of difference in a global contemporary artworld, spefically with regards to the experiences of African artists. It examines artists working in sculpture and sculptural installation who dismantle these expectations and the identities imposed upon them, both locally and globally, through their use of materials. The study takes aim at decolonisation efforts which play up certain aspects of artists’ work to suit institutional agendas. It is based on research conducted in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Europe and the United States.

Nugent's first monograph, Colonial Legacies: Contemporary Lens-Based Art and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Leuven University Press, 2021), examines a generation of contemporary artists born or based in the Congo whose lens-based art attends to the afterlives and mutations of Belgian colonialism in postcolonial Congo. Her research on this subject has also been published in African Arts and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

After completing her PhD in History of Art at University College London in 2020, Nugent was awarded Sharjah Art Foundation’s FOCAL POINT Publishing Grant 2020 and a Research Continuity Fellowship (2021) from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. The research enabled by these grants contributes to the growing field of global modernism through a transnational lens, firstly by examining the significance of the Mexican muralists to the Egyptian artist Inji Efflatoun in the 1950s and secondly through a consideration of artists from British colonies in Africa who studied at London's Slade School of Fine Art between 1945 and 1965. Her study on Efflatoun and the artist's adoption of the language and philosophy of Mexican muralism and simultaneous challenge to the muralists' masculinist vision of the world was published as a book, Inji Efflatoun and the Mexican Muralists: Imaging Women and Work between Egypt and Mexico (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2022). Based on her research in the Slade archives, Nugent published an image-led article in Burlington Contemporary on the way the categories of art history obfuscate artistic contemporaries and an essay in MoMA's online journal post: notes on art in a global context on the Tanzanian-born artist Sam Ntiro and the role of geographical distance and memory in his practice. 

In addition to her scholarship, Nugent has curated several exhibitions, including the two-part show Hand to your ear (2021–2022) at London’s Emalin gallery and HacerNoche: Promised Land (2022), an artist-led festival with over 10 participating institutions and public spaces and headlined by 17 new commissions by leading local and international artists, in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

Nugent has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level at University College London, the Slade School of Fine Art and the School of Oriental and African Studies. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.