Contemporary Art Week!
Los Angeles native and New York-based visual artist Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists—including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, and others—Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and sublime in his representation of urban black and brown men found throughout the world.
By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, wealth, prestige, and history to subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, Wiley makes his subjects and their stylistic references juxtaposed inversions of each other, forcing ambiguity and provocative perplexity to pervade his imagery. Wiley’s larger-than-life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.
1. Down With a Bullet, 2011., 2. Femme Piquee par un Serpent, 2008, oil on canvas. 3. Matador, 2009. Oil on paper 57.5” x 134.5”., 4. Sleep, 2008. Oil on canvas 132” x 300”.