Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic

This is not the face of fine art.  Or is it?  In his latest exhibition, "A New Republic," Kehinde Wiley challenges this notion, creating a space where people not traditionally represented can see themselves in fine art.  Casting urban dwellers and ethnic minorities, Wiley brings color and new life to portraits and classical forms.  No, not kings and queens but in everyday people, he conveys their humanity in a way that is almost tangible.  No, not threatening or menacing, his subjects are dignified.  They are bright.  They are strong.  They are graceful.  If ever before they've been unseen, ignored, unrepresented, misrepresented Wiley addresses the art world and brings it to their attention.  

The art of a culture should be a reflection of the time, of the people.  And that's what Kehinde Wiley does.  If you look into their eyes, even the subjects of his work carry a peaceful confrontation.  He brings them into a space where they too belong, and puts representation back in their hands.  Not because of their nobility or who they are but because they are, and it's elevating.  That's my best description of his collection.  Elevating.  In a world where the great works of the past tend to dominate our attention, Wiley portrays the present and redefines tradition.  Creating a space where power rests in the citizen and not in position, to beauty he brings a new definition.  Indeed, a  new republic. 

Yes, this is Michael Jackson himself, the "King of Pop."  This piece was completed after his death, but I like to think this is what he would have wanted. 

My favorite of the bunch.  He captures the humanity in the subject so well that you would never guess the photo's origin.  For a second the subject isn't menacing, he's just another person searching for his place in life.

Kehinde Wiley's exhibit, A New Republic will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum until May 24, 2015.  If you are in the New York area at all or can get to it before then, I cannot recommend this exhibit enough.  Learn more about Wiley and his other work here.

To learn more about the collection in the artist's own words watch here:

Have a great week! 



  1. Wish there was more of this in the world. That's a beautiful exhibit and a truly beautifully written post

    1. thanks so much Jasmine! too :-)


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