Kehinde Wiley – Introspective — Creative Exchange Agency
Kehinde Wiley - Sleep

KEHINDE WILEY

FINE ARTIST

Kehinde Wiley

Known for his virtuosic portrayals of Diasporic Africans, including the official presidential portrait of Barack Obama, Kehinde Wiley has diversified portraiture, updating its symbolic vocabulary to disrupt the cultural assumptions attached to skin color. His work is delicate yet forceful, both steeped in art history and critically of the moment.

The Los Angeles-born, New York-based artist’s widely recognized portraits weigh the dynamics of power, culture, and historic narratives. His works reimagine classic European portraits by replacing their subjects with black and brown men and women he personally identifies from various US cities and the capitals of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Caribbean, and Latin America.

Over the years, he’s highlighted the diverse cultural traditions of nations ranging from Haiti to Israel to Sri Lanka; recast the subjects of Byzantine paintings, Renaissance triptychs, and biblical stained-glass windows with African American and mixed-race models he cast ad hoc off the street; and painted pop-culture luminaries like Ice-T and LL Cool J as European aristocrats.

At the core of Kehinde Wiley’s practice is an analysis of the intersecting points between cultural and aesthetic values and existing historical narratives. In this charged moment, these discourses reveal how relations of power produce, sustain, and reinforce particular interpretations of transcultural exchanges and subject positions.

In 2019, he launched Black Rock Senegal, a multi-disciplinary artist residency program designed to incite change in the global discourse around West Africa in the context of creative evolution by bringing together an international group of visual artists, writers, and filmmakers for a period of self-reflection, practice development and cultural exploration and cross-cultural collaboration.

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COLLABORATIONS & ACTIVATIONS

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“With its immense scale and magical proportions, ‘Rumors of War’ feels like a defiant response to white reactionary politics, but it also encapsulates a precarity that many Americans feel. The rider, who is just a guy in ripped jeans, has been thrust into conflict. The sculpture is more tender than resolute. Throbbing veins on a raging steed are warlike, but the rider’s exposed knee, framed by the frayed denim threads of his pant leg, seems vulnerable, even in bronze.”

- The New Yorker
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“In these toxic times art can help us transform and give us a sense of purpose. This story begins with my seeing the Confederate monuments. What does it feel like if you are black and walking beneath this? We come from a beautiful, fractured situation. Let’s take these fractured pieces and put them back together.”

- Kehinde Wiley
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Kehinde Wiley x MTV

“Kehinde Wiley’s Moon Person sculpture represents inclusivity and diversity marked by the historical, environmental and nature relevance of the botanicals.”

- MTV
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Kehinde Wiley and President Obama
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Kehinde Wiley and President Obama

“Wiley takes extra ordinary care and precision in recognizing the beauty and grace of the invisible.”

- Barack Obama

"An important part of my work is the decorative, organic background of the person being portrayed. The design on the Centurion Card stems from my interest in botanical elements and is a reference to my signature style"

- Kehinde Wiley

“If Black Lives Matter, they deserve to be in paintings.”

- Kehinde Wiley
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Art Adds
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Art Adds
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Portrait of Swizz Beatz
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Portrait of Carmelo Anthony

“I was interested in rethinking the way that kings are being made. These men are flying beyond by understanding that the world in front of you doesn't have to be the only one."

-Kehinde Wiley
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Puma
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“So much of what I wanted to do with this project was get away from the televisual notions of disease, war, famine that we are sort of constantly bombarded with in regards to looking at Africa.”

- Kehinde Wiley
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ARTIST RESIDENCY

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Black Rock Senegal x Kehinde
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Black Rock Senegal x Kehinde
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“There are not hundreds or thousands of residencies in Africa…quite possibly because of the dominant media narrative concerning [the continent], to the great detriment of the creative class in the West.”

- Kehinde WIley
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EXHIBITIONS

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Tahiti

"I interrogate, subsume, and participate in discourse about Māhū, about France, and about the invention of gender."

- Kehinde Wiley
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“We have to get away from notions of ‘those people out there’—those trans people, those brown people, those colonial subjects. Often we look at the people in paintings as being passive. There’s a lot of agency here, and it’s beautiful!’

-Kehinde Wiley
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Saint Louis

"Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis' was tied closely to our collection and to our city, and it encouraged each of us to examine artistic traditions, current events, and the power of art to unite our community.”

- Brent R. Benjamin, Director, Saint Louis Art Museum
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“What I’m doing is slowing down and taking time to honor people from every little detail of their being. From their nails to the type of jeans that they are wearing – or that sort of timidity or boldness of their character.”

- Kehinde Wiley
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"In Search of the Miraculous’ captures the full spectrum of the human condition and delivers in epic proportions the artist’s grand narrative."

- Artsy
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Portrait of Carrie Mae Weems, Eris, 2017
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Portrait of Derrick Adams, El Santo Oficio, 2017

“These are people I surround myself with in New York, who come to my studio, who share my ideas. The people I looked up to as a student, as a budding artist many years ago.”

-Kehinde Wiley
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Portrait of Nick Cave, Nadezhda Polovtseva, 2017
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Portrait of Nick Cave, Nadezhda Polovtseva, 2017
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ortrait of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Jacob Morland of Capplethwaite, 2017
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Portrait of Glenn Ligon, Hermes, 2017
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CHRIST AFTER LADY MACBETH II , 2016 OIL ON CANVAS 96H X 60W IN
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SANCTA MARIA MATER DEI , 2016 STAINED GLASS IN ALUMINUM FRAME 97.91H X 46.18W IN
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“The resplendent light coming out of that stained glass is not about nationhood, it’s not about race. It’s about being powerful in the world, glowing literally. And if art can be at the service of anything, it’s about letting us see a state of grace for those people who rarely get to be able to be seen that way.”

-Kehinde Wiley
Willem van Heythuysen, 2005, Oil and Enamel on Canvas
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TWO HEROIC SISTERS OF THE GRASSLAND, 2011 OIL ON CANVAS 96 X 84 copy
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THE TWO SISTERS, 2012 OIL ON LINEN 96 X 72 copy
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Shantavia Beale II 2012 Oil on Canvas
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SUPPORT THE RURAL POPULATION AND SERVE 500 MILLION PEASANTS , 2007 OIL AND ENAMEL ON CANVAS 72 X 60 copy
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LEVIATHAN ZODIAC, 2011 OIL AND GOLD ENAMEL ON CANVAS 95.75 X 71.75 copy
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SAINT REMI , 2014 STAINED GLASS 96 X 43.5 IN copy
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ARMS OF NICOLAAS RUTERIUS, BISHOP OF ARRAS , 2014 STAINED GLASS 54 X 36.5 IN copy
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World Stage
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"There is a regalness to their stance. The chins raised in quiet defiance, in unassuming pride, offering a knowing regard that their self-possession carries its own currency.”

- M. Cynthia Oliver, exhibition text
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“What I decided to do was sidestep the question of disaster and poverty – which are narratives we know quite well about Haiti – by going towards the fabulous. I was looking at the history of pageants and pageantry as it existed not only in the Caribbean, but also as a phenomenon globally. There was something fascinating about how that spectacle of beauty and the artifice of it could fuse with this interesting narrative of trauma and poverty and discontent.”

- Kehinde Wiley
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An Economy of Grace
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An Economy of Grace

“The phrase ‘an economy of grace’ speaks directly to the ways in which we manufacture and value grace and honor, the people that we choose to bestow that honor upon, and the ways in which grace is at once an ideal that we strive for and something that is considered to be a natural human right."

- Kehinde Wiley
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“In a way that few other living artists match, Mr. Wiley’s art is overtly, legibly full of the present. His paintings reflect some of the problems and pleasures of being alive right now, in times fraught with corrosive bigotry and inequality; flooded with images, goods and sounds; and enriched by the incessant, even ecstatic interplay of cultures – whether high, low or sub – around the globe.”

- The New York Times
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KEHINDE WILEY