Abigail Spenser Hu resists most labels and categories. She finds them limiting and inadequate for describing her constantly evolving, perpetual-motion lifestyle, but there’s one she embraces fully: artist. She sees art-making, and the constant creation of beauty in every facet of her work and personal life as her soul’s purpose and passion; art is her life and her life is art.
Spending time with Abigail is like going into a timeless portal of color and light, constant motion, and a flurry of stories and ideas as her mind jumps from her new paintings to her spiritual insights to her business pursuits. Dressed in vibrant couture and equally at home in a laid-back California cafe or Michelin-starred New York hotspot, she exists in a reality all her own—the result of her unique background and innate inquisitive, expressive nature.
While she rejects the concept of a linear path in life, to understand Abigail is to go back in time to her early childhood. Raised in China by well-connected but somewhat strict parents, Abigail’s creative proclivities were initially encouraged. Her father’s best friend, an artist himself, offered professional lessons after he recognized her precocious talent at age five. Abigail recalls being a small child already drawn to large-scale work, “I’d carry around these massive canvases and my tiny child self would be completely hidden behind them!” she laughs brightly at the memory.
The quality of brightness recurs with Abigail—bright colors, a bright mind, an eye toward the light and open, sleek spaces—but her story is not without darkness as well. Her family, though loving, had strict and high expectations. Her mother thought painting a distraction from school and other supposedly more serious pursuits. There were years of loneliness and isolation, feelings of being suppressed by the lack of freedom in her home. Abigail doesn’t dwell too much on that time, but the effects remain and she acknowledges how they propelled her to seek out a different, more independent life.
College found her immersed in painting and design classes at Parsons School of Design, and she continues her education with frequent travel—Paris, and Milan are favorite destinations—and constant exploration of galleries and museums. She’s sought equal inspiration through immersion in the worlds of new-age philosophy and spiritual practice, all of it feeding Abigail on her quest for a big, beautiful, different kind of life. Establishing herself first in fashion, then expanding to interior design eventually led Abigail back to what feels like a creative home: painting. She loves Picasso, that he invented a new way of seeing and painting, and is inspired by his total commitment to being uniquely himself. “To be an artist, you have to be you,” she muses and it’s clear she is committed to that level of self-realization.
When she talks about her paintings, she emphasizes their brilliant colors, the recurring geometry, and the consistent abstraction that allows “space for imagination.” Literal representation doesn’t interest her so much, though her inspiration by nature and natural forms is palpable. While painting she says, she doesn’t “think at all … just let it flow through.” Her work is emotional or evokes emotion in the viewer. Asked whether her pieces reflect what she was feeling as she painted, she says, “I don’t know if I’m painting my emotions … really each piece is a direct reflection of who I am.”
That central identity-art connection allows Abigail to pursue with passion her paintings alongside other ventures in real estate, design, and in December 2020, as an author with the publication of her first book. With this increased freedom and confidence in her talents and ability to express them, Abigail has begun to see more public reactions, notably as a number of high-profile celebrity collectors have purchased work. After a successful showing of her works, including Catalyst and Electric Peace at Red Dot Art Fair, Abigail’s now focused on her relationship with Vienna’s Gallery Steiner. They’re hosting new paintings at an exhibition this fall and will also be showing her work in September at Spain’s Art Marbella. Beyond that, she knows she’s gained powerful insights through her travels, study, and commitment to self-actualization and she’s eager to share them in many forms.
Asked about her future plans, she again dismisses the idea of linear reality, coming back to her many projects with a laugh and what feels like a deeper spiritual insight, “I really don’t know where my path will lead me anymore … that’s why I only call myself an artist. I don’t limit myself anymore.”
Learn more about the artist through her website.