Starting art school when he was about 11, New York based artist Kehinde Wiley graduated from the Art Institute of San Franisco and Yale University, School of Art. He has now firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition, drawing upon elements of the late 80’s hip hop culture. The Los Angeles native visual artist paints urban, black and brown men and women found throughout the world in heroic, powerful and majestic postures, applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige to the subject matter drawn from the urban fabric. Wiley’s larger than life figures force an ambiguity and provocative perplexity, blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation.
While his initial portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem, he now includes models found in urban landscapes throughout the world, such as Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, to mention just a few, accumulating to a vast body of work called “The World Stage”. “Jamaica” is the first one in the “World Stage” series to feature portraits of women, assuming poses taken from 17th and 18th Century British portraiture. The juxtaposition between the sitter and the art historical references reflects on the relationship between the island and her former colonial power. For more of his works visit his website www.kehindewiley.com and also see Kip Omolade’s hyperrealistic paintings based on African sculptures.