Few artists in our day have been bold enough to defy expectation when it comes to stretching social and cultural boundaries.
Kehinde Wiley is in a league of his own when it comes to his masterful work and his vision for art and the world in general.
Born on the poor side of Los Angeles and now based in New York, this visual artist is establishing his well-deserved spot within art history’s portrait painting tradition.
It should come as no surprise that his approach is here to create a paradigm shift and pattern disrupts. He is challenging all of us to change the way we view and interact with art in our fast-paced modern times.
Growing up in a family of six where basic necessities didn’t come easy, his passion for art is probably the only thing that kept him focused through the tough times. It’s easy to sense both the extremes of poverty and opulence that Kehinde Wiley has been exposed to.
His belief that we are more powerful than we think and that we deserve to be visible and express our uniqueness motivates any dream chaser. But to effectively chase after your dream a certain level of presence, power and right attitude is essential.
Many of his masterpieces are stretching the boundaries of what’s considered socially acceptable as he seeks to express and celebrate spaces and people who are often overlooked and unheard. In his words, ” my goal is being able to allow the painting to exist in the 21st century in a way that has an indexical relationship to the urban culture and where the world is moving.”
The desire he has to crown everyday individuals and bring them into a new understanding of what royalty is or how to create wealth makes him a pioneer in his own right. Giving back hope, confidence, and grace to the brown and dark sinned communities globally.
In a society where we often feel suffocated and invisible, I believe Kehinde Wiley has taken on the courageous work of being the torchbearer of a new chapter in world history as seen in his world stage portfolio.
Suffice it to say his story of overcoming adversity and transcending from the sidelines to the spotlight in an industry genre that was quite conservative serves as a great demonstration of the courage, power, and passion radiated from his portraiture work.
The more one dives into the projects he’s immersed in, easier it is to connect with his core desire. This is a man armed with a smile that lights up the room, visions that can change the world and one who has against all odds set himself apart from any artist I have encountered.
With nothing more than a paintbrush, blank canvas and obsessive love for authentic art, he is, by all means, a change catalyst in an ever-evolving world. The streets of Harlem have been touched by his vision and now museums the world over will continue to spread this new iconic message.
Maintain that yearning that “it is possible to see images of black men in public spaces without any negative social connotation” – I see an awakened soul who is encouraging each and every one of us to step into our personal power and be more present.
Physical presence is about being. And we’ve all had those moments where we felt there was more in us that we wish to give, do and express if only we had enough courage. If only we could slow down long enough and be more present.
The award-winning artist believes that in a world where everything is moving fast and people are conditioned to conform, being able to produce art that causes us to slow down, experience, reflect and change at some level as a result of his creative output is one of the best motives he can have for producing revolutionary masterpieces.
One can only imagine the legacy and positive impact Kehinde Wiley will have not just on the history books but with the young men and women he’s continuing to inspire through his work.
It’s about time you made a decision that your uniqueness needs to shine more in the world. Refuse to be invisible and cultivate the attitude that will create wealth, touch lives and leave a mark in the pages of history.