Kehinde Wiley - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “There is a very real economic disparity between the races in America that can’t be ignored as a subtext, a very non-subtle subtext in my work and the history of painting and certainly the history of portraiture; it’s been the story of very powerful wealthy white men deciding to portray themselves in certain ways that quite frankly is a type of propaganda, a positioning oneself in the world to engender a point of view. I’m trying to take that language and criticize it, hammering it down to some sort of corrective object. My goal is to resurrect it in the form of something that seems a bit more delightful and playful, and something not didactic or preachy, but rather quite engaging, a language that I fell in love with as a young kid who really loved painting. I want to find some way in which I can recognize truth and myself in it and the things that resonate within me and resonate within the culture. I’m attempting to engage a question, not necessarily around the history of portraiture or religious iconography and propaganda surrounding wealthy white men, or the class disparities between the rich and the poor in America, or the race disparity, but rather a type of celebration, not necessarily of the darker sides of these chaotic and sometimes discouraging actualities, but the magic that can occur when all of these different possibilities interact in some way.”
    (The artist in an interview with Brendan Davis in Art Interview Online Magazine, September 2007)

  • Artist Biography

    Kehinde Wiley

    Applying the language and devices of royal portraiture to unnamed archetypes of the Black American experience, Kehinde Wiley bestows the pride and prestige of history painting to groups that it has too often overlooked. Rather than depicting the European aristocracy, Wiley’s portraits d’apparats place African Americans against florid backdrops and atop rearing horses, retaining the pomp and opulence of his historical antecedents and situating Black men and women dressed in everyday clothing as the subjects of art historical aggrandization. Often the accoutrements of urban life lend themselves quite readily to historical genres of portraiture; Air Jordans and Timberland boots can be as appropriate to monarchist might as emerald and ermine. Wiley’s goal is twofold: by subverting outmoded forms of expression through the substitution of the sitter, the artist criticizes the historical neglect of adequate Black representation and glorifies undeservingly maligned representatives of modern American life, what he calls “the ability to create painting and destroy painting at once.”

    Wiley’s work has been the subject of universal acclaim. His work can be found in the collections of major institutions across the world, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Wiley was also selected in 2017 to paint the official portrait of President Barack Obama, the first Black artist to be given such an honor. Recently, Wiley founded Black Rock, an artist residency in Dakar, Senegal, bringing an important artistic resource to the African continent.

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St. Remi

Oil on canvas in artist’s frame.
208 × 179.1 cm (82 × 70 1/2 in).
Signed and dated ‘Kehinde Wiley ’04’ on the reverse.

£25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for £34,850

Contemporary Art Day Sale

17 February 2012