Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley

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Born in 1977

Lives & works in New York (USA), Beijing (China), and Dakar (Senegal)

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Public Collections : Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City; Saint Louis Art Museum, St Louis, Missouri; Seattle Museum of Art, Seattle; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis,...

Collected by museums and foundations The Jewish Museum, New York; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Studio Museum, Harlem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California;


Presentation of the artist

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, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world.

By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige to the subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, the subjects and stylistic references for his paintings are 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.

Initially, Wiley’s portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. As his practice grew, his eye led him toward an international view, including models found in urban landscapes throughout the world – such as Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, among others – accumulating to a vast body of work called, “The World Stage.”

The models, dressed in their everyday clothing most of which are based on the notion of far-reaching Western ideals of style, are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. This juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new” – who often have no visual inheritance of which to speak – immediately provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope.

Without shying away from the complicated socio-political histories relevant to the world, Wiley’s figurative paintings and sculptures “quote historical sources and position young black men within the field of power.” He engages the visual rhetoric of the powerful, majestic and sublime in his representation of contemporary African-American and African-Diasporic men and women who adopt heroic poses directly referencing European and American portraiture.

His heroic paintings evoke a modern style instilling a unique and contemporary manner, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain mute.

In February 2020 ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, Wiley’s first solo institutional exhibition in the UK, opened at William Morris Gallery, London, featuring six new large-scale female portraits. A monumental public sculpture ‘Rumors of War’, the artist’s largest work to date, was unveiled in Times Square, New York in September 2019. It was permanently installed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia in December 2019. In 2018 Smithsonian Institution unveiled Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of Barack Obama for the Presidential Portrait Commission at National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

From 2015-2017 Wiley had a major ongoing touring exhibition titled ‘Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic’ which visited Brooklyn Museum, New York; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia; Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; and Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma.

Wiley received his MFA from Yale University in 2001. Shortly after, he became an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In 2015 he was awarded the US State Department Medal of Arts. In 2018 he received the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at Harvard University, Massachusetts. In June 2019 he was honoured by The Gordon Parks Foundation, New York. Wiley is the Founder and President of Black Rock Senegal, a non-profit artist in residence program located in Dakar, Senegal. 

Solo exhibitions include: ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, William Morris Gallery, London, England (2020); ‘Jacques-Louis David Meets Kehinde Wiley’, Musée national du château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France, travelling to Brooklyn Museum, New York (Two-person, 2019-2020); ‘Tahiti’, Galerie Templon, Paris, France (2019); ‘Equestrian Portrait of Prince Tommaso of Savoy-Carignan’, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California (2019); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis’, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri (2018-2019); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Lit’, Bozar Centre For Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (2018); ‘In Search of the Miraculous’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2017-2018); ‘Lamentation’, Petit Palais, Paris, France (2016), ‘Arts For All: Kehinde Wiley’, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Florida (2014); ‘Kehinde Wiley: Memling’, Taft Museum, Ohio (2014); ‘The World Stage: Jamaica’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2013); 'The World Stage: Israel', Boise Art Museum, Boise (2013), travelling from The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (2013) and The Jewish Museum, New York, (2012); 'Kehinde Wiley: Memling', Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona (2013); ‘Selected Works’, SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia, USA (2011); ‘The World Stage: Africa, Lagos-Dakar’, The Studio Museum, Harlem, New York (2008); ‘Focus: Kehinde Wiley’, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2008); ‘Kehinde Wiley’, Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2007); ‘The World Stage: China’, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Milwaukee (2007) and ‘Columbus’, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio (2006).

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Nationality : Nigeria / United States

Painting Sculpture Installations Contemporary Art

In connection with

Artskop3437 selection, Paris, Bordeaux - France

Rizzoli, Bordeaux - France