Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton

Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton
The World Stage: Israel
April 9 - May 28, 2011

In placing his 'everyday hero' in such grandiose compositions, Kehinde Wiley's paintings become a mixture of appropriation, photorealism, pastiche, subversion, and even homage. It is not possible for me to identify the countless references to historical masterworks in his paintings, but Titian and other Venetian Renaissance painters should immediately come to mind. I have problems with the work in that they are so seductive and so beautifully rendered that I sometimes lose sight of the subjects of the work - I am too distracted to realize that these men probably live in utterly abject conditions. He provides an escape in his recent talk at the National Museum of the American Indian when he said, "Sometimes I almost feel guilty with what I’ve created."

Sometimes, I almost feel guilty liking them.

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