KEHINDE WILEY: THE WORLD STAGE—CHINA
February 11–May 6, 2007
Kehind Wiley: The World Stage—China, installation view.
New York artist Kehinde Wiley continues to blur the divisions between urban and highbrow and traditional and contemporary representation in his new series of paintings, Made in China. Wiley paints young black men posed in attitudes similar to those of individuals portrayed in propaganda posters from China’s Cultural Revolution. Though each man is rendered in everyday dress, Wiley elevates his subjects from the street to regal stature, surrounding them with painterly patterns (which are, in this case, inspired by antique Chinese ceramic designs). Wiley’s works of art are also indebted to the historical portrait paintings of such Renaissance masters as Titian and Tiepolo. Like these master artists, Wiley heroically depicts his subjects in order to imbue them with power.
In his colorful, large-scale pieces, Wiley juxtaposes hip-hop and grandeur to explore black masculinity within a framework of history, wealth, power, and prestige. His style is, as a result, a cultural hybrid that distorts the context of conventional portraits to provoke a new response.
Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage—China has been funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin. Contributions from the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s loyal corporate, foundation, and individual donors have also been vital. The Arts Center expresses its deep gratitude to them for making this exhibition possible. As always, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is grateful to its dedicated Board members, volunteers, and staff.