Artist: Kehinde Wiley

20 Jun


A Painter with record quotes, Kehinde Wiley is gay and of Nigerian origin, and lives between Peking and Brooklyn.  A black excellence on the pathway of Obama. Yes. But above all, a natural talent tagged “WORLD”.

Kehinde’s main painting subjects are”Portraits of Alpha Males who I want to represent with beauty and dignity”.

The success of Kehinde, only 32 years old, is incredible: born in California, he was brought up by a single mother after his Nigerian father returned to Africa. After his art degree at Yale, he exhibited right away in international museums with the critics praise. The studio of Kehinde, in an old brickbuilding is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Kehinde doesn’t know how to do anything else except paint, and seeing that he does that pretty well, he’s happy. He was sent to school to be kept off the streets of Los Angeles. In he ’80’s the south center area where he grew up was very dangerous, but now its changing and poverty is still there, but the gang wars are not as cool as they once were.

Kehinde was a real nerd when he was growing up. He listened to Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk and John Cage. He uses rococò designs on top of his portraits of men/boys/black male figures and they come from old French wallpaper. He likes to interact and to know that his art has a position in the world, therefore the world  of hip-hop, publicity and street culture. He even lets his models to decide what they will wear and how they want to look or stand.

To get the casting for his portraits, he goes into the streets to look for an Alpha-Male, someone who has charisma, who is sure of himself and is determined. His artistic genre tries to get exactly that kind of black person, a person with beauty and dignity. If you look at many classic portraits, thinking of David’s Napoleon, beauty is one of the central elements even if we don’t want to admit it.

Kehinde pays his models so they can feel that they are not being used or being taken advantage of. Sometimes they ask if they have to get undressed, but that is not the kind of work that he is interested in.

One of the most unresolved points of his work is the insistence on being black. He also goes beyond by adding games of genre, history, power, influence from religious pictures, with all these decorations taken from historical times. He uses old material, patterns and designs and wanted to translate them into something different. He did a series of portraits for Puma of the World Cup Soccer Champions.


Puma sneakers


 Kehinde designs his own clothes and gets some of them made in China. Since he travels there often for work, he has the opportunity to get material and make things from all over the world. Then he gives the money to an Onlus in South Africa. He is starting to widen his artistic vision by painting men from other cultures.

At the beginning there were the kids from Brooklyn in poses reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, like Mao’s China. Now that he has come back from Mumbai, New Delphi e Colombo and for the first time he has painted important works that are not of blacks, even though it is known of his influence of a romantic type of Urban Black American Male.


 Oops, those are GIRLS! Puma of the Same Earth

Art+Fashion+Africa, the genius of urban art designs for Pum a collecton of shoes, t.shirts and accessories that are already cult.


One Response to “Artist: Kehinde Wiley”

  1. o.v.kriss June 21, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    The pictures are really good .. i never like this pictures before .. thank you for posting ..

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