Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage – France

Kehinde Wiley

For his first solo exhibition in France, American painter Kehinde Wiley brought portraits of young men in the former French colonies of Africa to a Paris gallery.

Kehinde WileyThe World Stage: France 1880-1960 is the latest in Wiley’s series of portaits of young men from around the world. Raised in California, the artist’s reputation was made on lush, vibrantly coloured portraits of young black men from Brooklyn and LA re-creating poses from paintings by the European masters.

Blending hip hop culture with traditional painting, Wiley has said his portraits play with conceptions of power, race and sexuality, pitching ordinary black American men onto the walls of some of the largest public museums around the world, where white men in elaborate clothing line the walls.

Here, he has taken these themes to a global scale, naming the exhibition after the years of French colonial power in Africa, and finding his models on the streets of cities in Cameroon, Tunisia and the Congo. The portraits are set against local patterns and re-create famous European portraits. In the process, these bold, captivating portraits attempt to question an enduring power relationship and the symbols that remained following colonization.

This hardcover volume includes an interview with world-renowned curator Jérôme Sans and 33 lushly colored paintings from Wiley’s series, the rococo backgrounds mixed with African street patterns making visible two aspects of France’s cultural heritage seldom viewed in tandem. CLICK HERE to order your copy of this hardcover catalogue.