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Exhibition at Centre d'Art de La Malmaison presents over 20 epic works by Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley, Monsieur Seriziat, 1910-1960 (The World Stage: France), 2012. Oil painting, 239 x 204 cm. Photo: Bertrand Huet. © Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels.

CANNES.- The Centre d’Art de La Malmaison on the Croisette welcomed one of today’s most sought after international stars, the American artist Kehinde Wiley. The Centre d’Art la Malmaison unveiled over 20 epic works, representative of the vast vocabulary that has guided the artist’s work for more than a decade.

Drawing his inspiration from the Old Masters, from Titian and Gainsborough to Van Dyck and Ingres, Wiley presents a uniquely political and aesthetic perspective, making visible history’s invisible figures, allowing the viewer to engage with the notions of perception as it pertains to power and place.

Kehinde Wiley has traversed the world since 2006 as part of his The World Stage series, whereby organizing local studios and utilizing street casting of denizens from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the cramped streets of New Dehli. He uses chance encounters with young black and brown men and women to create Baroque portraits, brimming with the vestiges and fanfare of the Old Masters. Kehinde Wiley is a descendent of that long line of portraitists. He offers reinterpretations of traditional easel painting vernacular, instilling power and prestige onto the young men and women who are rarely viewed as such.

Through this majestic retrospective, the first in France, one can fathom how a vast body of work can both question and participate in the Western art historical canon of portraiture. Kehinde Wiley invites us, we Europeans, to rediscover a painting whose artistic intensity we have, perhaps, forgotten at a time when the continent is experiencing an identity crises that is continuously evolving.

Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles) is an American artist best known for his portraits that render people of color in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings. Working with the medium of painting, sculpture, and video, Wiley’s portraits challenge an re-orient art historical narratives, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain muted.

In 2018, Wiley became the first African American artist to paint an official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former US President Barack Obama selected Wiley for this honor. In 2019 the artist launched Black Rock Senegal, a non-profit artist in-residence program located in Dakar, Senegal.

That same year, Wiley debuted his first large-scale public sculpture in Times Square, New York, showcasing a young African American man astride a rearing horse. In 2020 Wiley received France’s distinction of Knight in the order of Arts and Letters.

Curator: Numa Hambursin

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