About a year and a half ago, the Seattle Art Museum held a press lunch to talk through some of the exhibitions they'd be hosting through 2017. When Kehinde Wiley's work came up in the program, I let out an audible gasp. His pieces are sincerely that breathtaking! The time has finally come for SAM to host a special exhibit of his work, and I'm so hyped the city will have his magic in our midst for awhile.
Via SAM's website:
Kehinde Wiley is one of the leading American artists to emerge in the last decade and he has been ingeniously reworking the grand portraiture traditions.
The artist began his first series of portraits in the early 2000s during a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He set out to photograph and recast assertive and self-empowered young men from the neighborhood in the style and manner of traditional history painting. Since then he has also painted rap and sports stars but for the most part his attention has focused on ordinary men of color in their everyday clothes. Trained at Yale in the 1990s, Wiley was steeped in the discussions concerning identity politics during this decade and he brings his personal insights and theoretical studies to his practice.
Wiley’s portraits are highly stylized and staged, and draw attention to the dialectic between a history of aristocratic representation and the portrait as a statement of power and the individual’s sense of empowerment.