Kehinde Wiley: Tradition Takes a Modern Form

Kehinde Wiley

So you all know that we, over here on Taxidermy and the 20th Century, love things oldey-timey. But we don’t just love the unusal ancient things and spend all of our time poring over old books and old things and old stuff. Sometimes, we like to see how the ancient and the traditional merges with the modern, and that’s how I give you Kehinde Wiley. Wiley likes the same things that we do here at Taxi20: the old and the new. However, he takes it a step further. He gives people of black heritage, specifically those with an African American culture, the same sort of traditional paintings that white people have had throughout their history.

Kehinde Wiley

I mean, anyone who has studied Art History or European History (or perhaps even World History) can recognise the painting to my left. It’s Napoleon crossing the Alps to lead his French soldiers into battle against the other empires of Europe. It’s a painting that clamours of glory and pride, and Kehinde Wiley repaints it with a major change; we see that a camo-donned African American has taken the place of Napoleon.

Suddenly, Kehinde Wiley has placed a member of his own race as the leader of national pride and liberty. By mixing these two different ideas of black culture and classical portraiture, Wiley brings the gift of classical pride to blacks. He’s shouting that his culture and heritage is something to be proud of!

Kehinde Wiley

Wiley doesn’t just paint African Americans, though. He paints also Afro-Brazilians, Ethiopian Jews, and a whole slew of other varieties of people with black heritage. We live in a modern world that is both teeming with racism and adamant that the issue is one of the past, not of today. But as retroverts and antiquophiles (two new words I have made up), the bloggers here at Taxi20 can tell you that the past and the present are deeply intertwined. It’s motions like this, where black culture is given the same pride and status as classical white culture, that help to blur the boundaries that exist in society today.

-A.

Photos Courtesy Of:

Advertisements

A’s Art Portfolio

So many of you have been following us through our exploration of art, cooking, theatre, crafts, oddities, and all sorts of interesting things. Since I know that quite a few of our followers appreciate art, I’d like to show you some of my own today! These are all pieces of various sizes and mediums that I have done over the past two years. I’ll upload a few and give a brief description of the piece, as well as any interesting things I can remember about making them.Image

This piece is a depiction of a picture frame wrapped in white paper and tied with white string. It’s about 24×18″ and completely mixed media. As it was an exam, I had 4 hours to do this piece. Some of my materials include black pastel, charcoal powder, conte, pencil, ink wash, and coloured pencil. Clearly, I deeply exaggerated the forms to make the painting as dramatic as possible, rather than the subtle, understated forms that my peers attempted. I’m particularly fond of the deep gouges in the lower left quadrant. It seems almost violent.

This next piece, more abstract in nature, was made with soft pastels and ink. It is approx. 30×24″ in measurement, and took me about 8 hours. I’m fond of the ghost shapes of ink drippings and splatterings behind the pastels, along with the various ghostly shapes that occur, such as the semicircle in the upper right hand quadrant.

This was one of my first explorations of abstract art. To come to this piece, I did over 200 smaller pieces with less detail, which are now stacked up in my studio. Such a mess!

I adore abstract art, despite having a background in more classical oil painting. The sheer emotion, unadulterated by simple realistic depiction. However, I’d like to introduce you to a few of my more classically influenced places.

These pieces are relatively small, about 6×12″, and made of watercolour, coloured pencil, pencil, and salt. Starting with calligraphic marks, I then began to combine the calligraphic marks with the mollusks. Yay, mollusks!

This piece is particularly large, about 18×12″ and made of pencil and pen. I did a whole series of human-animal composite images on dense patterns, and while this was one of my earliest, it is also one of my favourites. The awkward, unorthodox combination of the classical figure drawing, surreal dense pattern, and what I like to consider to be relatively realistic animal heads always gets me interesting reactions!

I hope you enjoyed seeing my artwork rather than seeing someone you already know! Cheers.

-A.