Portrait artist’s work now on display in St. Louis

October 29, 2018 by  

Kehinde Wiley, who painted the official portrait of former president Barack Obama, now has several of his works on display at the St. Louis Art Museum, in an exhibit that opened recently.

The exhibition is free, and comprises 11 commissioned portraits of subjects Wiley met when he visited St. Louis in 2017. Wiley’s paintings are large-scale works, usually several feet in both height and width. His subjects are contemporary African-Americans, and he uses his art to show viewers the politics of power and race.

In creating these portraits, Wiley has his subjects dress in their own clothes, but then he places them in poses he adapts from historic artworks. He frequently surrounds his subjects with lush backgrounds of ornate patterns and flowers, drawing attention to the fact that people of color are rarely found in works of art.

Wiley developed this exhibit by inviting strangers he met in St. Louis in 2017 to pose for him. The result was 11 compelling portraits of African-Americans who live in the city. Wiley’s work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, and others. Organizers of exhibits like this can work with a poster printing company to create advertising for the event.

After viewing the way his work is displayed, Wiley declared he was pleased with the exhibit, which runs until February 10, 2019.