I must admit, when I first saw the paintings of Kehinde Wiley I was not impressed what so ever. My first impressions were that these paintings were tacky, kitsch and camp. The VIBRANT, the COLOURFUL, ROCOCO patterns juxtaposed by photo-realistic portraits just did not do it for me.
However, as they say, NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. After visiting Stephen Friedman Gallery for the exhibition The World Stage: Jamaica I realized the reasoning behind the way Wiley paints, and instantly fell in LOVE. Wiley is a RENAISSANCE MAN, following the long history of PORTRAITURE paintings but revamping them in an URBAN way. He attempts to bring subjects that would not usually be portrayed in this style of painting and gives these people a A STATUS OF PROMINENCE AND A VOICE.
What Wiley does is go into the streets of poor neighborhoods, be it HARLEM, the slums of RIO or in this case JAMAICA and photographs the everyday man in prominent historical poses of people of noble status. He then goes and paints these photographs onto a canvas with the backdrop of older patterns depicted within history but in different tones – brilliant reds, greens and yellows.
It is a way for him to respond to SOCIO-POLITICAL issues surrounding black males-colonialism, imperialism, racism etc. By evoking these traditional painting modes onto black males and females, he is thus not only bringing status to these everyday men and women, but as well showing the inequality of the subject of the cultural “Other” that is still prominent today.
It is not camp and kitsch at all.
It is BEAUTIFUL and THOUGHT PROVOKING.
Peace Out, K.
Sometimes living in REALITY can be quite difficult? Growing up can be such a pain. But that does not mean our FUN and IMAGINATON has to go with our youth?? I think the newest exhibition at Parasol Unit, is an escape from capitalist reality we live in today and allows our inner curious child to come out. Navid Nuur’s Phantom Fuel (13 March-19 May 2013), is an EXPLORATION of the MIND and provides the viewer with world of DISCOVERY. It is a lighthearted exhibition (which seems to diverge from my past reviews on exhibitions – I usually like the grotesque and heavily conceptual works) that plays with the phenomenological experience. Some of his works, can be slightly paralleled to the famous Duchamp – what a guy! Nuur takes found objects (like Duchamp) but rather reconstitutes its function thus creating a new object for experience and us the viewers can explore. I felt like a little child peeping through the holes of the reconstituted flash lights, that hold small collages of people and areas, or calling the cell phone that was plastered to wall with red and blue plasticine to hear Nuur himself screaming “RED BLUE.” Nuur I believe has a great sense of BEAUTY in the smallest things, which is what utterly EXCITES. An installation displaying a popsicle that drips and a projection that captures and displays the dripping is something beautiful that is often overlooked. Children find great satisfaction in the smallest things, and I believe that Nuur holds this childlike view of the world and creates works to let us see. If you’re in a mood to discover and find the inner child in you, go see this latest exhibition. It’s fun, exciting and imaginative, and that is what art should be.
Peace Out, K
P.S. YOU HAVE 3 DAYS LEFT TO GO GO GO!!!!
P.P.S. DON’T FORGET TO BRING A POUND AND A PENCE TO GET A METAL FINGERPRINT FROM THE ARTIST HIMSELF BY SPINNING ONE OF THOSE MACHINES THAT YOU FIND AT A THEME PARK! ONE OF THE LEAST EXPENSIVE PIECES OF ART YOU CAN ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION!