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Kehinde Wiley’s glorious portraits of 21st-century Dalston women in Walthamstow

Jan. 8, 2020

By: The Art Newspaper

There are plenty of firsts with Kehinde Wiley’s upcoming show at the William Morris gallery in Walthamstow, north east London. Kehinde Wiley: The Yellow Wallpaper (22 February-25 May), is billed as the first solo exhibition of new work shown by Wiley at a public institution in the UK, and also the first to feature exclusively female portraits. Wiley’s striking subjects, depicted in his trademark maximalist style, are women the artist encountered on the streets of Dalston, east London. “Each [one is] positioned as autonomous, as powerful, as open to individual interpretation and as an emblem of strength within a society of complicated social networks,” a press statement says. Wiley’s models are depicted in reimagined fields inspired by the William Morris oeuvre, say the organisers (who knew that the Los Angeles-born artist has looked to Morris’s famous floral motifs over the years for inspiration). The show also highlights the overlooked 1892 feminist text The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This 19th-century novella tells the semi-autobiographical tale of a woman confined to the attic of a grand mansion, giving powerful and pithy insights into mental illness. Or as Wiley eloquently puts it: “The Yellow Wallpaper is a work of literary fiction that explores the contours of femininity and insanity.”

Source: The Art Newspaper

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