Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic
"Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic" presents an overview of the artist's career including around 50 of his oil paintings, stained glass and sculpture. The exhibition highlights the range of Wiley's production, starting with examples of early paintings executed around the time of his 2001 residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. These figurative canvases of African-American men, inspired by Wiley's observation of street life in Harlem, mark the beginning of his focused exploration of the male figure.
In subsequent bodies of work, the artist took figuration a step further to examine the European tradition of portraiture. Appropriating the format of specific paintings by renowned masters such as Titian, Van Dyke, Ingres and Manet, Wiley began the practice of replacing historical subjects with contemporary young African-American men sporting fashionable urban gear: puffy down jackets, sneakers, hoodies, jerseys and baseball caps. Juxtaposed with ornate decorative backgrounds, the stylized likeness and grounds became part of Wiley's signature style.
In a 2015 feature, The New York Times called Wiley "one of the most celebrated painters of his generation ... known for vibrant, photo-based portraits of young black men [who] gaze out at us coolly, their images mashed up with rococo-style frills and empowering poses culled from art history."
The exhibition will also include a selection from his ongoing "World Stage" project, which he initiated in 2006 by establishing a satellite studio in Beijing. In addition, the exhibition will include portrait busts and stained glass "paintings," as well as female portraiture from Wiley's recent series "An Economy of Grace."
"Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic" is organized by the Brooklyn Museum. Oklahoma City will be the final stop for "A New Republic."