The work that struck me the most during our class’ field trip to the Nasher was the massive Kehinde Wiley in the second room we entered. Wiley was not an artist with whom I was familiar- I’d never heard the name but his work immediately lured me in. It took my mind a while to decipher whether the work was a photograph or a painting, the detail and impecible realism caught me off guard and it was really only the out of control and vibrant backdrop that convinced me the work was done by hand.
I was further struck by the fact that Wiley works like a master artist and does the main facets of the work but delegates other parts of the work to his hired team. Wiley evidently is "interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit." It’s not just his guild-like system that remind me of another century though, but the realism and attention to his work reminds me of the commissioned works of previous centuries.
Wiley is most notable for this blend of modern and past. The men featured in his works are young, modern, urban. But the backdrops are ornate and like French rococo and the way the men are positioned "quote historical sources and position young black men within that field of power."
It’s interesting, in researching artists how little is written about Wiley in comparison to other artists, like Dali, that I researched. Granted, Wiley is much more contemporary and still very young with much of his career ahead of him. Wiley was born in California and now works out of New York. He is of Nigerian descent. Wiley takes famous portraits, and has modern people pose like the portrait in contemporary clothes to truly blend past and present. The paintings are then titled after the painting that inspires the work.
Here of some of my favorite of his works: