Kehinde Wiley is an American artist. As a child his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after school art classes, at the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia.
Wiley’s painting style has been compared to that of such traditional portraitists by the likes of Reynolds, Gainsborough and Ingres. Although similar in style they are very different in content. Where some of the greats such as Reynolds would paint pictures of kings and very important people Wiley focuses on the image and status of young African American men in contemporary culture. Blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation. Rendered in a realistic mode while making references to specific old master paintings.
Wiley’s slightly larger than life size figures are depicted in a heroic manner, as their poses depict power and spiritual awakening. Wiley’s portrayal of masculinity is filtered through these poses of power and spirituality.
His portraits are based on photographs of young men who Wiley has come across on the streets of New York. One of our favorite portraits he has painted is of PONY’s very own Dee and Ricky.