Monday 2 March 2020

The Art of Kehinde Wiley

Naomi and Her Daughters, 2013.

Best known for his portrait of Barack Obama, the artist’s first solo London show is inspired by a tale of insanity and the women of Dalston

While growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s, the Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley, 42, discovered the work of the 19th-century British textile designer, writer and social reformer William Morris.
“He’s not so well known in the US,” he says. “But my mom was what you might call a junk dealer. [Her store] wasn’t really an antique store, but it sold second-hand furniture, oftentimes from old estates. So as a kid, I grew up seeing a lot of floral patterns, some Morris-inspired, some actual Morris pieces, among the stuff she was selling. And from very early in my life, there was this ornate sensibility inscribed.”
Over the past decade he’s included literal representations of several familiar Morris designs – HoneysuckleIrisBlackthorn and Granada among them – in his portraits, though in Wiley’s hands the colours can be clashingly vibrant. “And it was only after working with that sort of decorative style that I began to take the DNA of Morris and build upon it to create hybrids of my own, these kind of all-over patterns that feel random and chaotic as opposed to that very rational order you see in traditional Morris prints.”
It’s appropriate, then, that his first solo show in a UK museum, a survey of portraits of women, will be at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, northeast London.

Read the full article here.

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