Kehinde Wiley is taking his art everywhere, all at once
May 15, 2023 -NEW YORK (AP) — Kehinde Wiley was already well into his influential art career when his portrait of Barack Obama — arms crossed, perched on a chair amid brilliant foliage — was unveiled in 2018. But there’s no doubt it changed the artist’s life.
Here’s one way he describes the shift: Now, should he ever show up at the bank and realize he’s forgotten his ID — which hasn’t happened yet, but still — he could say: “You know that portrait of Obama? I’m that guy, and I didn’t bring my ID, so if you could just Google that…”
But Wiley, proud as he is of the groundbreaking work — an official portrait of a Black president by a Black artist — does wonder how long he’ll be referred to in that context.
“I wonder if I will ever be able to do anything that lives up to the gravity of that moment,” he says. “Everybody wants to be seen in a number of different contexts … but I mean, what a great project to be involved in. So, come on, here’s the world’s smallest violin, playing just for me.”