I think I first became aware of Kehinde Wiley about 3 or 4 years ago when I saw a thumbnail image in the NYTimes. I’ve seen his work at the Jewish Museum (“World Stage: Israel” March–July, 2012) and I just saw his work again at the Brooklyn Museum of Arts (“Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, February–May, 2015). The pieces are huge! And they are gorgeous.
His work is realistic portraiture in a traditional/classical style, but his subjects are not aristocrats, but modern-day men and women (mostly men) with black or brown skin. His subjects are posed in in heroic poses, inspired by the old master paintings. What I love most about the works are the detailed patterns that sit behind the portraits and flow into the foreground. It must take a lot of planning and patience to paint all those repetitive patterns. The patterns are colorful and beautiful, and are commonly related to the culture of the subject. Even certain frames are intricately carved to nod to the culture of the subject. Such a clever detail!
Kehinde is just two years older than me, and look at what he has accomplished! Impressive and inspiring. He was born in Los Angeles, but now works from a studio Brooklyn. His website is: kehindewiley.com.