Click to enlarge image Triple Portrait of Charles I Kehinde Wiley, 2007 Oil and enamel on three canvases

Wiley’s large-scale figurative paintings, which are illuminated with a barrage of baroque or rococo decorative patterns, posit young black men, fashioned in urban attire, within the field of power reminiscent of Renaissance artists such as Tiepolo and Titian.

I cut and pasted the information below from the National Portrait Gallery’s website, link at the end. If you have time, I would encourage you to go see these paintings. They are amazing! I really enjoyed the exhibit. The poetry by Nikki Giovanni and installation by Shinique Smith is also good. It’s not up for much longer… if you can’t get there, you need to check out the images online.


Arist’s Statement: Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of African American men collate modern culture with the influence of Old Masters. Incorporating a range of vernaculars culled from art historical references, Wiley’s work melds a fluid concept of modern culture, ranging from French Rococo to today’s urban landscape. By collapsing history and style into a unique contemporary vision, Wiley interrogates the notion of master painter, “making it at once critical and complicit.” Vividly colorful and often adorned with ornate gilded frames, Wiley’s large-scale figurative paintings, which are illuminated with a barrage of baroque or rococo decorative patterns, posit young black men, fashioned in urban attire, within the field of power reminiscent of Renaissance artists such as Tiepolo and Titian.

For “RECOGNIZE!” Wiley has included paintings from his body of work, Hip Hop Honors, depicting some of the foot soldiers of the hip hop movement. The artists chose poses—taken from Wiley’s personal art book collection—that best suited the performative and personal aspects of their character. The coalition of the anonymous subject with the allure of personality allows this body of work to engage celebrity and status directly.

Value, in all its meanings, has always played a role in culture. Unlike its precursors—classical, jazz, rock—which have since been canonized and given an art-historical time frame and construct, hip hop continues to be seen merely as entertainment; a cultural hindrance. This series of Wiley’s portraits speaks specifically to that juxtaposition and the retooling of importance and to whom and when it is deemed.

http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/recognize/paintings.html

  1. LaMorena Says:

    Came across this in my search for images that represent African Rococo.

    Diggin’ K’s work!

    I am working on a design brief for my design salon – MOORDESIGN. My objective is to create a brief that draws on the historical design elements that can be associated to with a Salon – origins in 18th Century europe, decorative arts, rococo style…

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