Kehinde Wiley is a New York based artist who I first profiled in 2012. Wiley paints large scale portraits and figures in which he incorporates complex, detailed and often high-chroma patterns and decorative elements.
In the rich earth reds and browns in which he paints the dark skin tones of his subjects, Wiley uses a full range of value, from brightest highlights to deepest darks. Combined with a forceful modeling of the forms, often incorporating backlighting, his faces and figures have a visual strength that allows Wiley to essentially go wild with his backgrounds without concern that the subjects will be overwhelmed.
In contrast, the clothing in which his subjects are dressed, though often brightly colored, is frequently handled with a softer range of values, deliberately sending it into the background. This effect is exaggerated by the extension of background pattern elements into the foreground, wrapping around or in front of the figures like physical objects.
His subjects are often posed in classical poses similar to the classic paintings that Wiley admires, though they are often named as saints and other religious figures. Some are arranged as actual icons, but emphasize the real name of the sitter.
As visually striking as Wiley’s paintings are in small reproductions, they are much more so in person, as they are large in scale. Like many of the old masters, as well as more recent painters, Wiley uses assistants to complete his large scale works, some working from a secondary studio he has established in Beijing, China.
When visiting his website, be aware that once within a section of works, you need to scroll down and click “View Images” to see the image slides.
Wiley’s work is currently on display in a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum: “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic“, that runs until May 24, 2015.
Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, Brooklyn Museum, to 5/24/15
Review on Ebony
My previous post on Kehinde Wiley (2012)
7 Replies to “Kehinde Wiley (update)”
Airbrush? Some of the detail looks to be airbrushed. Just curious.
I don’t know all of the details, but I doubt that any of the faces or figures are airbrushed; the backgrounds may be handled differently.
Interesting backgrounds. I’m not sure all of them fit with the subject, but I like the concept. I am a fan of bold colors.
Yeah. He seems to play with the relationship between the backgrounds and subjects a lot. Sometimes they blend, sometimes they seem at opposition.
They don’t reference it in this piece, but I think this is where I heard his work is featured on Empire: http://www.studio360.org/story/kehinde-wiley-modern-day-royalty/
Thanks, Bram. I’ve heard that too, but I haven’t seen it.
this is really cool, and and I don’t know, I love it. Please do check out my art painting too! goo.gl/l4C54Q just Sharing it
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