Los Angeles native and New York-based visual artist Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendant of a long line of portraitists’including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, and others’Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and sublime in his representation of urban black and brown men found throughout the world. By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, wealth, prestige, and history to subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, Wiley makes his subjects and their stylistic references juxtaposed inversions of each other, imbuing his images with ambiguity and provocative perplexity.
In 2017, Kehinde was chosen to paint the official portrait for President Barack Obama.
Was awarded the Medal of Arts by the U.S. State Department in 2015.
He learned to paint the human body by copying the Old Master paintings.
"I cannot simply walk past a Kehinde Wiley with his insertion of urban black and brown men in Renaissance poses into meticulously painted wallpaper backgrounds without pausing to ponder his portrayal of masculinity, power, history, Western, and non-Western traditions."