Posts Tagged ‘Kehinde WIley’

Kehinde Wiley and his Influence

October 4, 2010

Kehinde Wiley…shoooooo…this guy is a genius.  Seriously.  He is an internationally known artist who exhibits at all the major galleries and fairs around the United States and beyond..  I don’t even want to know how much his paintings sell for.  He is definitely an influence on my work, and I am excited to share some of his imagery with you.  Here is my friend Matt Miley looking at one of Wiley’s paintings that we saw at Art Basel a couple of years ago.  Amazing.

I know, I know…this is not exactly a Tennessee-focused entry, HOWEVER, his ideas and visual vocabulary influence my work, and I am a Tennessee artist!  Also, I am putting together my first artist interview, which is not ready yet, so you will have to be patient as I work out my timing with all the different posts. 🙂

Kehinde Wiley takes cues from the great portrait painters of the past – Ingres, Gainsborough, Titian, etc… and embues them with contemporary culture on a world stage.  What started as a project in Harlem, has now grown to other cities like Dakar, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro.  He finds ordinary boys, teens, and men in rough parts of town (dare I say the “hood”), shows them pictures of old portraits from hundreds of years ago, asks them to mimic these old poses in their ordinary clothes, and then paints them – usually in a highly-pattered background (usually reminiscent of French Rococo).  He says he always tries to find the “alpha male” types.

I actually started doing a similar thing a few years ago in my own work.  I had been looking at so many dramatic religious paintings, that I started to pose myself in some of these extremely emotional contortions, take pictures of said contortions, and then paint from the photographs.  As a matter of fact, I still do this!  The pic below is one of the first pics I took with these ideas in mind (I think around 2007?).  I have used this image in several paintings.

It’s important to let yourself be influenced  by great artists.  Take cues from them, and apply them to your own work.  They are great for a reason.