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Kehinde Wiley is a famous American portrait painter and a residence of New York City. He is highly known for naturalist black people painting as uses young black men and women as his main subject of focus. Most of his works embrace contemporary African-American portraits. Overall, Kehinde focuses on the black culture in presenting most of his works. This paper focuses on examining essential artworks of Kehinde Wiley and their significance in art and architecture. It also captures the description and analysis of the artwork as presented by Kehinde Wiley.
Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps (2005)
This portrait presents a young contemporary African-American male rider who is wearing army fatigues, red sweatbands around his wrists, tan boots, a flowing golden cloak and, a white bandanna. The artwork formation and composition is similar to David's masterpiece as it also has fingers gesturing upwards while the tattooed right arm is sitting confidently on top of the white horse, on a rocky landscape. As captured in the original portrait, which has the names of most celebrated leaders who led their armies during the battle with the Alps such as Bonaparte, Karolus Magnus, and Hannibal (Iskin, 2016). The names are also inscribed on the portrait although an additional name, William was added to it. The upper three-quarters of the painting's background is decorated with a pattern of red and gold Baroque brocade. The overall experience of the painting has small white sperm, which can be seen swimming on the red model. Wiley uses an ornate gold frame to mount the painting for easy visibility and susceptibility.
Wiley adopted fashionable clothes which are camouflage-patterned to create a military provenance reference as opposed to David's painting. The presentation, however, shows signs of propaganda as naturally, Napoleon never led his troops to war as well as did not ride a white horse instead followed behind the army on a mule. The young black man used in Wiley's painting shows the assignment of power among the black disenfranchised male subjects who have been victimized in contemporary America. Wiley also uses camouflage clothing with classic decorative fashions to expose the wearer as well as to it a dramatic pose and excessive spectacle, which is famous among many great images of the Western world. Notably, the use of French Rocco in the painting influences flashy attire as well as displays the consumption of the material being used during the hip-hop culture (Iskin, 2016). Wiley maximizes the use of fashion as the main component in his paintings.
The sperm in the background of the painting signifies masculinity references as well as highlighted the black masculinity and excessive fun, which is exhibited by male counterparts. The equestrian portraiture is a significant phenomenon because it captures the domination of the males over nature as well as women (Wiley, 2016). The picture was aimed at representing a man with sexual and military prowess in conquering the beast that existed between their legs. However, for a valuable and sensible scale, Wiley adopted the use of Photoshop to minimize the size of the horse while maximizes the human figure. The superimposition gives the portrait hyper-heroic effects as valuable characteristics which can only be depicted in great museum walls.
Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro (2008)
Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro is a portrait of a young black boy who has a bleach-blond hair and wears a basketball backward with a red sleeveless tank top. The boy is portrayed for the chest up with a skeptical sideways view. At the yellow background of the portrait are brightly colored red and blue flowers mixed in green foliage. At the foreground are also a few flowers which are floating in front of chest subject. The painting is mounted on a black floral flame. Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro portrait is one of Wiley's works, which features a young black male in a bright background. The work acts as an example of the nature of the response, which is kneeing given to different works in different geographical locations. The completion of the portrait was done in Brazil, although the typical Rococo background was done to draw inspiration from tablecloths, which are brightly patterned.
Additionally, Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro (2008) portrait presents uniqueness, especially in the way in which the subject matter is presented. The depicted young boy in the street portrays the presentation of famous and historical personnel (Tsai, 2015). However, the flowers which are both at the back and in front of the boy signifies vulnerability, beauty as well as the youths of feval cultures who are always being oppressed by the seniors regardless of the efforts they make in the competitive world to rise to power and dominance.
Femme Piquee par un Serpent (2008)
The large painting presents a young black man wearing sneakers and provocatively pulled down blue jeans to show the white underwear which is underneath a lime green hood sweatshirt, orange t-shirt and cap which is tilted sideways. The depicted subject is a wooden bed which is covered with a white sheet. The man in the portrait is depicted gazing backward over his shoulder towards the viewers. It has a deep blue background with flowers which are pale pinkish-beige, some of which are the foreground and falls over the bed and man.
Historically, the painting is inspired by Auguste Clesinger's 1847 sculpture which had a similar name and depicted a dying woman from a venomous snakebite. During that time, the sculpture was regarded as controversial as the suffering and contorting of the women was more sensual and erotic as opposed to indicative of impending death. The adoption of the reclining pose depicts prone bodies of unsettling series, which has a greater sense of vulnerability and sensuality as compared to the usual oeuvre.
According to Murray (2015), the presentation of the reclining pose signals more alertness and more excellent intellectual capability of the figure. Wounded, objectified dead, or asleep, the horizontal body is regarded as the first one whose carnality as well as mortality has experienced an underscore due to lack of concrete uprightness (Murray, 2015). As a result, the recumbent body signifies vulnerability, availability, and passivity. However, Wiley further argued that his choice of the pose with the erotic state was majorly aimed at showing that power can be modified to give pleasure to other issues which are pertinent in the painting.
The painting breaks several nude figures study rules which were traditionally small and used smooth-skinned white women as is a presentation of the naked or near-naked painting with a man gazing down. Wiley also adopted other forms of formal historical traditions to present the image amicably, thereby lowering the credibility and worthiness of the portrait among critics (Carrington, 2015). The soft flowers which are depicted floating on the picture plane represent a competition which is exhibited between the foreground and background to show the historical dominance which is presented by the male characters in history.
Judith Beheading Holofernes (2012)
The painting presents a black woman with a long blue gown and up-do hairstyle and holds a knife in her right hand while holding the decapitated white woman's head by the hair. At the background of the painting are orange and blue flowers as well as green foliage which lie against a black backdrop. As part of Wiley's exhibition of "An Economy of Grace," it was majorly dedicated to the female subjects. The painting models were cast on the New York City streets as a way of showing massive revere on its inclining posture. Similarly, like other painting of the same series, its subject was used to confront the viewers with confident and active stare to subvert the traditional white male convention gaze (Whitehead, 2018). The painting generally serves as the oppositional gaze, as outlined in major feminist books. The hooks which are used to put forward the painting signify the nature and effects of racial segregation among the minorities in the assertion of resistance against the radicalized and power reclamation from the visual media. Wiley uses Judith to act as the star of the story embodied by fierceness. Her posture and direct gaze give her an outstanding outlook for future reference.
Additionally, several historical references have been made for the painting by many artists to depict the outlined subject matter. In the deuterocanonical Book, the story of Judith is captured as a tale of women of beheads a man after seducing him. However, the story of the famous painting is read as a victory from the feminist world using their pure beauty, which they use in murdering men who try to destroy their personalities (Cutler, 2016). The painting further captures that devoid story of racial consideration and celebration to give pleasure to the women world. Wiley also uses the painting to draw attention to feminism disparities with a focus on white women who are always the victims of such jeopardy and forgets about racial disparities which are associated with power and beauty standards.
Moreover, the repositioning of the painting with a black woman as the murder of her counterpart, the white woman was the main cause of racial violence. The black women were viewed as the perpetrator of violence against the white woman (Whitehead, 2018). However, this was considered by another artist as a predominant threat as it shows a threat to the white supremacy. Overall, the painting signifies war between the whites and the blacks in attempts to rationalize the situation based on the supremacies, which are predominant among them.
Portrait of Barack Obama (2017)
The portrait was selected by Wiley in October 2017 to make president Barrack Obama paint in one of the most recognized American exhibition. The unveiling of the painting was done in mid-February, 2018 and portrayed Obama seated on a wooden chair that appears to be floating on bright green foliage which is interspersed with African blue lilies, jasmine, and chrysanthemums. Similarly, in the painting, Obama is depicted wearing a dark blue suit with a white collared shirt which has the last two top buttons were undone, no tie. Obama's arms are crossed; his elbows are resting reluctantly on his knees. The wedding ring is adversely visible and shines from a distance on his left ring finger. He is looking directly out at the audience.
During the creation of the portrait, it was evident that Wiley and Obama shared significant things in common (Prater & Smith, 2015). For instance, both Obama and Wiley had American mothers who raised them with explicit support and love. Similarly, both of them had African fathers who were never present in their lives, and the efforts towards tracing their whereabouts became null and void. The absence of a father figure in their lives exposes them to cling to their mothers for all their needs and support. Besides, they never relent the efforts they have in achieving their goals and realizing their dreams.
The selection of the foliage in the background of the portrait was used to present Obama's charting path on earth. Each flower used had a significant value. For instance, the chrysanthemum was used as the official flower of Chicago to present Obama's life in Chicago for several years; jasmine represented Hawaii, Obama's birth area as well as where he was raised while the African blue lilies symbolize his heritage. Overall, the portrait is exceptionally significant because it portrays values and attributes of President Barrack Obama that was never captured in other works. The surreal and kitsch flowers which are enveloping from Obama's chair gives the painting an outstanding outlook.
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