Kehinde Wiley Quotes
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I think there's something important in going against the grain, and perhaps finding value in things that aren't necessarily institutionally recognized.
This is something that, as artists, we constantly deal with-throwing away the past, slaying the father, and creating the new. This desire to throw away the old rules.
The backgrounds by design are a very key part of the conversation, because I want a kind of fight or pressure to exist between the figure and the background.
All art is self-portraiture.
Painting is situational. And my particular situation exists within gender, race, class, sexuality, nation.
I believe that artists should be part of the culture. I think that my work clearly bears that out.
The art world has become so insular. The rules have become so autodidactic that, in a sense, they lose track of what people have any interest in thinking about, talking about or even looking at.
We have a lot of sort of received historical ways of viewing portraiture. And I suppose in some way I'm sort of questioning that by toying with the rules of the game.
We're wired to be empathetic and to care about the needs of others, but also to be curious about others. And I think that's just sort of in our DNA. And so portraiture is a very human act.
I guess art is in the eye of the beholder.
I think that's kind of indicative of a type of self-confidence that people develop when they recognize their own ability to create.
Almost as though the painting itself becomes the embodiment of a type of struggle for visibility, and this might be considered the main subject of the painting.
When you're at your best, you're analyzing yourself and becoming increasingly isolated from a broader narrative.
I think that artists provide questions, not answers. We provide provocations rather than fully formed objects.
I think that at its best you just have to respect each arena for what they can do well.
I try to create a place of disorientation.
Status and class and social anxiety and perhaps social code are all released when you look at paintings of powerful individuals from the past.
There were certain expectations that were assumed of me as a young black American 20th-century - then 20th-century artist.
I've had moments where I've met people who were complete, like, idiots, who could not understand visual culture to save their lives.
My assistants generally do all the flowers and all of the decorative work. I concentrate on the figure.
A realization and a dissection of the canon gave rise to the work. But there's also a sneaking suspicion of the canon.
He's a great - he's a great professor. He retired recently, but.But Peter Halley as well.
I think what we should concentrate on is what it feels like to be a working artist in the day to day. One doesn't imagine what comes down the line.
One of my most strong memories was studying with Mel Bochner, one of the, I think, high water marks of American conceptual art.
I use those expectations as a color on my palette, a certain temperature in the room. You can use those expectations for the great punchline, but also for a great painting, in society.
It's a culture. It's - I mean, people obsess over this. And people create subcultures that identify - and there are people in the streets who will recognize certain patterns and signifiers.
I think the world that I grew up in was like being in this sort of magical artistic garden.
I have a really strong suspicion of the romantic nature of portraiture, the idea that you're telling some essential truth about the interior lives of your subject.
I believe the artist is capable of contributing to the broader evolution of culture in all of its dimensions.
I create something that means something to me, to the world, and try to do my best. I can't fix everything.
How does the artist function as poet-slash-witness-slash-trickster?
On the contrary, my desire is that the viewer sees the background coming forward in the lower portion of the canvas, fighting for space, demanding presence.
In my work, I want to create an understanding, not about what a painting looks like but about what a painting says.
I mean, the radical contingency that is - that exists and the fact that I'm going into the streets and finding random strangers any given day - who's in these streets that day?
I have been painting models with black and brown skin only for the past years. So, I did already have this experience, this is how I have come to the paintings I do now.
I grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where people are in cars.
I was 12 in 1989 during perestroika, when my mother found a program that sent me to Russia to study art in the forests outside of Leningrad.
There's nothing shocking inherently about that, given that so much of the way that artists are taught is by copying old master paintings.
Mel Bochner was able to give me the tools to look at those types of experiences, register them with my own, but also hold them far enough away to see them 360.
I went back to my mother's house recently and I saw some of my earlier works as a 15-year-old art student. And a lot of them were reiterations of classic works.
You know, one of my - one of my best and, I think, most enlightening moments was when I was contacted by Michael Jackson. And he requested that I paint his portrait.
My paintings at their best take that vocabulary and attempt to transpose that into a form that gives respect not only to the history of painting but also to those people who look and sound like me.
Is it the responsibility of the colored artist or the ethnic artist to create works that are designed to exist in opposition to a certain political structure?
The work that I wanted to create wasn't being done then. I was too much concerned about fellow students, professors, institutional style [in Yale].
I like to play with the conventions around what we expect of paintings historically. But I also like to play with the conventions that you expect from a Kehinde Wiley painting, too.
In America, there's this type of expectation of just-add-water celebrity, this type of, "Of course you found me; we're all going to be famous for 15 minutes," sort of Paris-Hilton-ization of society.
I think that an obsession with art history gave rise to the work.
There is something to be said about laying bare the vocabulary of the aristocratic measure, right? There's something to be said about allowing the powerless to tell their own story.
I've met others [people] who simply responded to me, "You're Kehinde Wiley. I know your work. I saw it at the Brooklyn Museum [Brooklyn, NY] And I'd be honored to be in your work."
I love the idea of engaging religious sentiment and how that vocabulary has evolved over time.