Wiley's painting style has been compared to that of such traditional portraitists as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian and Ingres. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work with the following: "Kehinde Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture."
Wiley’s paintings often blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation. Rendered in a realistic mode–while making references to specific Old Masterpaintings–Wiley creates a fusion of period styles, ranging from French Rococo, Islamic architecture and West African textile design to urban hip hop and the "Sea Foam Green" of aMartha Stewart Interiors color swatch. Wiley's slightly larger than life size figures are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses connote power and spiritual awakening. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.
His portraits are based on photographs of young men who Wiley sees on the street. He painted men from Harlem’s 125th Street, then South Central neighborhood where he was born. Dressed in street clothes, his models were asked to assume poses from the paintings of Renaissance masters, such as Tiziano Vecellio and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
The artist describes his approach as "interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit." Wiley’s figurative paintings "quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power.” In this manner, Wiley’s paintings fuse history and style in a unique and contemporary manner.
Kehinde Wiley’s exhibition, "Infinite Mobility" appeared at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Two of Wiley's pieces are highlighted as part of the Collected Identities exhibition currently on display at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Artist I Admire: Kehinde Wiley
I first learned of Kehinde sometime early this year while watching I think TNT. During the commercials they were doing something about characters of the month and it was his. What I like about his art was he was taking the image of black men and inserting them into old highly popular paintings. He's twist was just crazy ill to me.
Make sure you visit his site: http://www.kehindewiley.com Some examples of his artwork: