Kehinde Wiley

Some of you may think it priggish, but I love portraiture. And I also love pretty much every painter to come out of Yale in the last 15 years. I don’t know what they’re feeding these people–probably carrots–but damn. Kehinde Wiley, whose “World Stage” series is being exhibited in a solo show at the Studio Museum in Harlem right now, does incredible nouveau-18th and 19th century Realist portraiture of young black men set against ornate baroque and Art and Crafts-era backdrops.

Let’s be honest, the subject matter is pretty damn political, but I’m interested in the way artists, like Wiley or John Currin, use this hyper-technical, finesse-y mode to take their shit to that meta level, where you start thinking about the classicism of the form as being a statement in itself. Because if it doesn’t blow your mind on multiple levels of consciousness, then it’s not even worth looking at. DUH! HALEY

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