Kehinde Wiley : “A history of complicated gazing“
In the continuity of the history’s invisible, repressed figures or colonial controversial episodes, Kehinde Wiley’s upcoming exhibition at Galerie Templon in Paris, from 18 May to 20 July 2019 comes from his observations and works created in Tahiti this past year.
The exhibition will be showing a series of paintings and a video installation on Tahiti’s Māhū (‘‘in the middle’ of male and female) community, who had a spiritual and high social role until they were persecuted and banned by missionaries who implemented transphobic laws. Wiley will be reflecting on both the notion of identity and gender – as it refers to the traditional Polynesian classification of people of a third gender – but also echoing France’s art and tackling renowned and hailed Paul Gauguin’s works, nonetheless tinged with sexual objectification and a particular vision of the transgender Māhū figures portraits.
Kehinde Wiley had exhibited in Paris for the first time at the Petit Palais with “Lamentation”, exploring religious iconography and revisiting church stain glasses through his own idiosyncrasy, with black Americans and hip hop culture.
His world is one of the interconnections and questioning the present. He composes his aesthetic by incorporating black figures in art history masterpieces, challenging, therefore, the academic portraiture canon, and politically exploring colonialism history through his vibrant and colourful works.
After graduating from Yale University in 2OO1, Kehinde Wiley completed a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2002. He is mostly renowned for becoming in 2018 the first African-American artist to paint an official U.S. Presidential portrait, for the former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Regarding Kehinde Wiley’s other projects, Black Rock Artists Residency is something not to miss. Launching it in Dakar, Senegal, the new multi-disciplinary artist-in-residency program comes from Wiley’s personal desire to create a workplace for West Africa and particularly Senegal where he instantly felt an intimate proximity when he first encountered Dakar in 1997. Black Rock aims to support the creation of a blend of international and multigenerational artists from hybrid fields (visual artists, writers, filmmakers etc). He intends to set a creative hotbed of talents in Africa, living immersively for a few months in the cultural richness of the city.