Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008.
Oil on canvas, 132 x 300 inches. Rubell Family Collection, Miami.
Kehinde Wiley's subjects are often regular people he meets in his community, people he encounters on his travels overseas, or in some cases, celebrities from the music industry. Wiley brings them into the orbit of royalty, warriors, and saints, placing them in an environment derived from grand-manner portraiture and in this way, repositioning the image of the black male in art history. Wiley's portraits suggest a historical lineage for the self-presentation and flamboyant stylings of contemporary urban culture. They are about real and imagined contexts, allegory, and beauty.