24 Nov 2017

Kehinde Wiley on ‘painting in the 21st century’


That ubiquitous poster art image of President Obama is instantly recognisable, but it is about to be rivaled. The artist Kehinde Wiley has become the former President’s official portraitist, his work destined for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. Wiley won’t reveal how he will portray Obama, but his new London exhibition and film, In Search of the Miraculous at the Stephen Friedman gallery, gives a few hints about the style he’ll use. He’s described his art as a “way of saying yes to us”, meaning the black community, the gay community and ordinary people whose images don’t get preserved for posterity in galleries – an echo of Obama’s “yes we can.”