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Los Angeles native and New York-based visual artist Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendant of a long line of portraitists’including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, and others’Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and sublime in his representation of urban black and brown men found throughout the world. By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, wealth, prestige, and history to subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, Wiley makes his subjects and their stylistic references juxtaposed inversions of each other, imbuing his images with ambiguity and provocative perplexity.
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