Artists to Know: Kehinde Wiley

I first came into contact with Wiley's work at the National Portrait Gallery in DC. Wiley's found a way to bring portrait painting back from the grave and I love every one of these works.

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

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.

The Mint Museum Charlotte has its very own Wiley! Visit the Mint to see it in person, you won't be disappointed!