Artwork: “Portrait of Rashid Johnson and Sanford Biggers, The Ambassadors”, 2017 oil on canvas painting: 120 5/16 x 85 5/8 inches (305.6 x 217.5 cm) framed: 131 5/16 x 96 11/16 x 4 ½ inches (333.5 x 245.6 x 11.4 cm). © Kehinde Wiley, courtesy Sean Kelly, New York

The Trickster exists in different cultures around the globe: the wily shapeshifter with the power to transform the way we see the world. As an archetype, The Trickster can be found in any walk of life where people must operate according to more than one set of rules, moving seamlessly between the appearance of things and the underlying truth.

.

Artists know this realm well for they are consigned to delve deep below the surface and manifest what they find. Yet their discoveries are not necessarily in line with the status quo; more often than not, they will upset polite society and upend respectability politics by speaking truth to power – quite literally.

.

In the United States, African Americans know this well. Throughout the course of the nation’s history, they have been forced to deal with systemic oppression and abuse in a culture filled with double speak that began with the words “All men are created equal,” penned in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, a man who kept his own children as slaves until his death.

.

Throughout his career, artist Kehinde Wiley has moved smoothly between spheres of influence, using the canon of Western art as a tool of subversion, celebration, and recognition for those who have long been excluded from the narrative. “History is written by the victors,” Winston Churchill said, reminding us that now is the time to reclaim that which belongs to us.

.

In Trickster, a new exhibition of work currently on view at Sean Kelly, Gallery, through June 17, 2017, New York, Wiley honors his contemporaries who walk his same path, creating a series of portraits of extraordinary black artists including Derrick Adams, Sanford Biggers, Nick Cave, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Yinka Shonibare, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

.

Using Francisco Goya’s infamous Black Paintings as the departure point, Wiley puts blackness front and centre, operating on several levels simultaneously. Below, he speaks to us about this work, revealing the power and courage it takes to go beyond the known.

.

Read the Full Story at Dazed Digital

.

Artwork: Kehinde Wiley, “Portrait of Wangechi Mutu, Mamiwata” © Kehinde Wiley, courtesy Sean Kelly, New York

Artwork: “Portrait of Nick Cave, Nadezhda Polovtseva”, 2017 oil on canvas painting: 120 5/16 x 81 ¾ inches (305.6 x 207.6 cm) framed: 131 5/16 x 92 ¾ x 4 ½ inches (333.5 x 235.6 x 11.4 cm). © Kehinde Wiley, courtesy Sean Kelly, New York

 

Please Share: