KEHINDE WILEY ‘THE WORLD STAGE: JAMAICA

“‘The World Stage: Jamaica’ is the seventh platform within a series of projects that explore portrait painting in the context of the broader evolution of global pop culture. I chose models through a street casting process in the neighborhood of Trench Town in Kingston, Jamaica, as well as the dance halls and clubs throughout the city. The works investigate the rhetorical strengths of 18th- and 19th-century British portraiture and draw a distinct line of cultural and economic lineage between the United Kingdom and Jamaica. ‘The World Stage: Jamaica’ seeks to provoke the viewer to reassess the visual vocabulary of the portrait and the depiction of black and brown people globally.” Kehinde Wiley, ‘Modern Painters’, September 2013

Kehinde Wiley is an American artiste that has a series of painting called World Stage where he visits different parts of the world to produce works of art drawing the connection of history , in this case colonial power to present  day life. His inspiration comes from his interest in colonialism , their wealth and power acquired from their life in the islands and the countries he visits, and in turn uses that period of history and display it using present day people in the same glorious effigies of their past masters. The work is interesting and fascinating as the results are what he calls’ BIG painting. This type of painting is dramatic, over powering, it draws on your sense of scale, it is as he calls it chest pumping painting. And he succeeds. They are Big!

The artist’s work inspires you the viewer as it puts his subjects , and they are what you will call insignificant people, into the spotlight and makes their life as big as the picture they pose in. The art uplifts them to the point where they would never have the opportunity to be seen much less be heard.  Is is art imitating life? Its much more than imitation. It is empowerment. It is reversing the roles. It is reminding you the viewer that our past is still connected to our present. It is Art in its simplest and most controversial and political form. Thank you ACUBIEN for bringing this wonderful work to the front.

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Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977 in Los Angeles, USA) lives and works in New York, USA and Beijing, China. He will be the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, USA in 2015.  Wiley’s work features in the permanent collections of numerous prominent institutions including The Jewish Museum, New York; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Studio Museum, Harlem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

ALL Copyright the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.  Our kind thanks to Stephen Friedman Gallery and CCH Pounder on her visit to London for bringing this exhibition ACU|BIENs attention.

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