🌿Wednesday 5th July 2017
Hi creatives! We promised we had lots in stock for the year, this is just another tip of the iceberg.
Our “Art Inspiration” post is set out to inspire young and upcoming creatives in KUTA Nigeria, Art Enthusiasts and the World Art Community by carefully analysing the life, ups, downs and most importantly — the works and career of an Art Veteran as briefly as possible.
A.I. Episode 1, featuring Naturalistic Painter — Kehinde Wiley.
Kehinde Wiley, born in Los Angeles, California in 1977 is a New York-based portrait painter who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of black people in heroic poses. His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American. As a child, his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after-school art classes. At the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia. Kehinde did not grow up with his father so at the age of 20 he traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him.
He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his Master of Fine Art (MFA) from Yale University, School of Art in 2001.
Wiley is an unusually successful artist. In the decade of his career to date, he has become one of the most sought-after painters in America. At 40, he is one of the art world’s brightest lights, painter of portraits that borrow heavily from the old to make something blazingly new. His paintings often blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation.
His portraits are based on photographs of young men whom Wiley sees on the street. He has painted men from Harlem’s 125th Street, as well as the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood where he was born. Dressed in street clothes, his models were asked to assume poses from the paintings ofRenaissance masters, such as Tiziano, Vecellio and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Wiley’s figurative paintings “quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power.”
He visits the beaches and markets of North Africa, handpicks his subjects, and transforms them, step by inspired step, into an ambitious new series of paintings. This is how a masterpiece is made.
More often Wiley’s paintings are of people you don’t know. He photographs hundreds all over Africa, and returns to his studio to paint a wildly ambitious, continuing endeavor that he calls the World Stage.
Wiley’s paintings are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses connote power and spiritual awakening. Although he says he’s not very religious. You might think otherwise from looking at some of his work. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.
His work is found in many public collections throughout the world, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond — Virginia, San Antonio Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, the DIA — Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit — Michigan, Kansas City Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem in New York and many others.
In May 2017, Wiley had an exhibit, Trickster, at the Sean Kelly Gallery, NYC. The exhibit featured 11 paintings depicting contemporary black artists.
He has received numerous awards of recognition. In October 2011, Wiley received the Artist of the Year Award from the New York City Art Teachers Association/United Federation of Teachers. He also received Canteen Magazine’s Artist of the Year Award and many others.
Wiley currently has a show at the Petit Palais in Paris called “Lamentation.” It features 10 monumental works in stained glass and oil on canvas. Each portrays a traditional religious scene, in the style used by European artists during the Renaissance. Wiley reimagines each scene, placing at its center a modern-day person of color, wearing shorts and tank tops and the like.
Wiley describes what he does as an “intervention”.
“By and large,” he says, “most of the work that we see in the great museums throughout the world are populated with people who don’t happen to look like me. As a child, I grew up studying and worshiping those great works of Western European painting. But I also wanted to fulfill the goal of feeling a certain personal presence in that work”.
It is safe to say that Wiley wanted to see himself in those grand heroic portraits and as an artist, he sees an opportunity to take those centuries-old depictions of glory, and use them to make a statement that’s very much about the present.
“At its best, what art does is, it points to who we as human beings and what we as human beings value. And if Black Lives Matter, they deserve to be in paintings.”
By the way, Wiley’s full body of work goes beyond religious iconography. It includes a series of projects he calls, “The World Stage.” Each project focuses on a different country around the globe, always with a black or brown body at the center of each portrait.
KUTA Nigeria celebrates Kehinde Wiley!