While all the fool-assed-fools in the US continue to get hyped over Norman Rockwell's cheesy white person made-up-America nonsense, (trying to stay cool after reading some extremely stupid internet comments related to a very innocent post on Harpyness) I'll be over here enjoying Kehinde Wiley.
Baroque-inspired portraits of young black men and hip hop personalities, employing rich colors and "traditional" decorative floral patterns; an interesting, fun, and engaging take on portraiture for the 21st century, if you ask me. I first came across Wiley unwittingly, when my roommate Elliot put this painting up as the background on our communal computer. I loved it because it was fresh and unexpected, using a traditional medium and florid Baroque details to elevate young black men to an almost regal status. Then, a few weeks ago, Joe and I visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art and came across this room, where a painting of Wiley's was hung amongst the actual 18th century that he draws from.
His subjects look confident (defiant?) and comfortable, and stare right at you out of the canvas. I've always loved those qualities in portraits of women, so maybe it's just something I enjoy about paintings that depict people who have historically been kept out of the "art world," or who are usually supposed to show deference and obedience to the assumed white, male viewer.
Point being, boo to Norman Rockwell and his trite garbage, yay to Kehinde Wiley and his empowering contemporary interpretation of an old style I'm not usually that into.
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