Comments/Context: Kehinde Wiley's aggressively vibrant portraits of young African American men are an exercise in jarring juxtapositions, at once vaguely familiar and altogether different than anything we're used to seeing. Drawing liberally from the canon of art history, he has borrowed poses and allegories from images of kings, noblemen and saints (those with status and power in society) and applied them to men from urban Hip Hop culture (those who have lacked such status and power to date): crowns and halos have been exchanged for flat brimmed baseball hats worn sideways; velvet cloaks and riding breeches have been traded for hoodies and oversized plaid shirts; elaborate jewelry is now an Etch-a-Sketch belt buckle; waxed mustaches have been replaced by scruffy beards and goatees. Quoting from 500 years of painting, Wiley has collapsed the typical boundaries and conventions of portraiture, using the visual language of the past to tell us compelling stories of the present.
- Artist website (here)
- New York magazine slideshow (here)
- Recognize! at the National Portrait Gallery (here)
- Interview with M.I.A. (here)
Kehinde Wiley, Black Light
Through September 26th