Life in the Creative Lane - Adventures of a Curator
KEHINDE WILEY "A New Republic" Brooklyn Museum | February 20-May 24, 2015
NOW SHOWING | Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas | September 20, 2015 to January 10, 2016
Magnificent portraiture, powerful exhibition, breathtaking", Norma Krieger
ABOUT | Kehinde Wiley is a New York-based portrait painter, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of people with brown skin in heroic poses. He will often use Old Masters paintings for the pose of the figure. The works presented in Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic raise questions about race, gender, and the politics of representation by portraying contemporary African American men and women using the conventions of traditional European portraiture. The exhibition includes an overview of the artist’s prolific fourteen-year career and features sixty paintings and sculptures.
Wiley's signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on specific paintings by Old Masters, replacing the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings with contemporary black subjects, drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.
The subjects in Wiley's paintings often wear sneakers, hoodies, and baseball caps, gear associated with hip-hop culture, and are set against contrasting ornate decorative backgrounds that evoke earlier eras and a range of cultures.
Through the process of "street casting," Wiley invites individuals, often strangers he encounters on the street, to sit for portraits. In this collaborative process, the model chooses a reproduction of a painting from a book and reenacts the pose of the painting’s figure. By inviting the subjects to select a work of art, Wiley gives them a measure of control over the way they're portrayed.