Kehinde Wiley | the artist

The artist Kehinde Wiley
Born 1977, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Lives and works in New York, .

Style and technique of the artist: Painting,

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Known for his paintings of contemporary urban African American men in poses taken from the annals of art history. His painting style has been compared to that of such traditional portraitists as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian and Ingres. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work with the following: "Kehinde Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture."

Kehinde Wiley poses in his studio with one of his two Italian greyhounds.

He's a brilliant renaissance technician with hip-hop subject matter. His latest work focuses on young black men in a sadly familiar posture: Down. But in a world where bad is good, being down is not always such a bad thing...

Wiley hot-wires the studied attitudes and dramatic backdrops of Old Master portraits with a Day-Glo palette and a hip-hop sensibility, creating a radical artistic mash-up that has been praised as hip, provocative, and technically brilliant. By asking his subjects to assume poses found in historical paintings and sculpture, he transforms ordinary urban men into saints, kings, even Christ...

His portraits initially depicted African-American men against rich textile or wallpaper backgrounds whose patterns he has likened to abstractions of sperm. Some of the subjects were famous (rap and sports stars), others not. Their silken running suits, carefully creased jeans and bling reflected the sartorial codes of hip-hop, but their poses and props (thrones, scepters, rearing horses, religious attributes) were lifted from the portraits of Velázquez, David and Gainsborough or Renaissance images of saints...