Editions Galerie Templon, 2015
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Galerie Templon is presenting the first solo show in France by painter Kehinde Wiley, renowned in the United States as one of the most promising artists of his generation. To mark this event, Wiley has devised a new project, taking him from Morocco to Cameroon on an unexpected journey across the African continent.
Kehinde Wiley has been criss-crossing the world since 2006 as part of his The World Stage project, organizing his ad-hoc castings from the favelas of Rio to the streets of New Dehli. He uses his chance meetings with young urban black and brown men to create baroque portraits brimming over with adornments and references to the Old Masters.
Kehinde Wiley sees himself a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, from Titian to Gainsborough and Van Dyck to Ingres. He offers reinterpretations of the traditional vocabulary of power and prestige in the hyperbolicsettings he creates for his charismatic “boys.”
For this Paris exhibition, Wiley set off to seek out African cultures and the colonial history of France in Africa (1880-1960) as he explored Morocco, Tunisia, Gabon, Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
Delving into issues of racial and sexual identity, Kehinde Wiley’s works create unexpected collisions where art history and street culture come face to face. The artist makes eroticised heroes of the ‘invisible’, those traditionally banished from representations of power. His work is ambiguous, part politically-charged critique, part an avowed fascination with the luxury and bombast of Western symbols of male domination.