Kehinde Wiley’s Bold Paintings Reconfigure The Way African American Culture Is Portrayed

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Kehinde Wiley‘s impressive painting career is being celebrated at the Brooklyn Museum in a grand exhibition that is open right now. For fourteen years, he has been painting bold, decorative oil paintings that are reconfiguring the way African American culture is portrayed in art. He takes the techniques from the old European portraiture masters and turns them into modern and fresh images, relevant to a post-colonial culture. Old stuffy aristocrats and patrons wearing flouncy blouses and ridiculous wigs from centuries gone by, are replaced by black subjects with a certain street style to them.

Wiley asks different people – most of whom are regular passer-bys on the streets in Harlem, to sit for his portraits. They are given different art history books full of ornate backgrounds to choose from to complement their portrait. Wiley then paints them reenacting certain poses, imitating the European subjects and places the chosen embellishments behind and over their image. His style is a fusion of many different elements – French Rococo and the High Renaissance, Islamic architecture, West African textile design and urban hip hop, and is a result of his own mixed heritage.

Wiley later went on to create a series called The World Stage, where he traveled to Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro to portray different cultures and traditions in his work. He explains more:

One of the reasons I chose Brazil, Nigeria, India and China is that these are all the points of anxiety and curiosity and production that are going on in the world that are changing the way we see empire. As I’ve been traveling, I started to notice that the way many people in other parts of the world interact with American culture is through black American expression. It’s an interesting phenomenon. (Source)

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic is an exhibition showing over 60 of his paintings and sculptures, and is on until the 24th of May.

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Peace Not War: Artist Replaces Soldiers Guns With Flowers

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Multi-media installation artist, video maker, designer and all-round talented guy Mister Blick has made some beautiful collages. Placing colorful flowers on old war time photos, in the place of where guns normally would be, he makes a sweet and subtle statement. Alluding to many different political actions in war time, his message is clear. Why do we continue to use force against one another?

The subject of his collages will resonate around the world, but perhaps more so in Portugal. On April 25, 1974, there was a military coup in Lisbon which is now known as the Carnation Revolution. When the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship, carnations were placed into the barrels of the soldiers’ guns, and placed on their uniforms. It is a classic example of how radical political and societal change can take place without the use of bullets.

Mister Blick’s images are a simple reminder of how quiet, gentle actions are usually the ones that end up heard the loudest. And it is a timely celebration of one of the most original revolutions in Europe, and in the world. Happy Freedom Day everybody! (Via Honestly WTF)

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Andre Levy Turns Important Figures On Coins Into Cartoon Characters

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What started out as a simple past time, has now turned into a full on project viewed by thousands of people on social media each day. Frankfurt-based, Brazilian designer Andre Levy first started collecting coins during his travels and with a steady hand and a great imagination, has been turning them into mini artworks for a few years. With a layer of enamel and a bit of patience, the portraits of Kings and Queens long passed away are transformed into colorful cartoon figures, or heroes from comic books.

The ongoing art project is called Tales You Lose, and features tons of familiar pop cultural faces. Levy paints Marge Simpson, The Fantastic Four, Rorschach from Watchmen, Cinderella, Papa Smurf, Amy Winehouse, Apu, Princess Leia, Albert Einstein, David Bowie – you name it, he’s painted it. Levy says this about his coin series:

We are constantly surrounded by pop figures – in films, in music, comics, and even in gossip magazines. They are sometimes our escape from reality, our fantasies. Coins portray something opposite: the real, the everyday.


This project is about individual expression in opposition to massified [sic] thinking, about how our personal passions are more worthy than things that are imposed to us. The paint brings to the faces of kings and presidents borrowed narratives from other famous characters and unleash individual alternative stories.(Source)

Make sure you check out his Instagram account to see new and old miniature paintings and see how many faces you recognize. (Via Honestly WTF)

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Graffiti Artist Christina Angelina’s Impressive Circular Multi-Media Installation Will Drag You To The Desert

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In the middle of the California desert (Slab City) there is a pretty cool collaboration and installation work checking out. Graffiti artist Christina Angelina has teamed up with Ease One to work on a impressive, emotional project called Kinetoscope. Taking over an abandoned water tank in the middle of a dusty plain, they have painted a massive circular mural reflecting on the ideas of women, intuition, gender, and the current zeitgeist.

Combining many different elements, the installation is a multi-sensory experience. After climbing up a 15 ft ladder, visitors then descend into the middle of the empty water tank to find themselves surrounded by larger than life faces and will hear amplified sound echo around the structure. While in the middle of the space and turning around, the visitor will experience a certain type of magic inspired by photographer Eadweard Muybridge. He was the originator of the Zoetrope – a machine and technique that animated still images, and would bring them to life, by quickly spinning them on a circular form.

The women’s faces Angelina has painted reflect on her own magical, personal moments when she has used her intuition – an attribute she feels is undervalued and overlooked by society. Additionally, she has painted a type of mysterious font around the border of the tank in a striking combination of Eastern and Western script. The words spell out lyrics to Society by Jerry Hannan and Eddie Vedder:

It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
You think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won’t be free
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me

Kintoscope was sponsored by Starfighter Studios. They have kept a diary of sorts reading more into the experience of being based in the desert, away from society, while putting the installation together. You can read more of their insights here.

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Graphic Designer Dreams Up A Product Perfect For Women Who Have PMS

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Texas-based graphic designer Parker Jones has come up with a cheeky and clever idea to help women suffering from mood swings and cravings during ‘that time of the month’. Her college project features different fictional flavors of PMS Ice Cream. Named after moods and emotions that she herself has been a victim of, Jones has come up with some witty names. “Don’t Come Near Me” is a tub full of chocolatey rocky road and nuts. It also features a scale marked on the side showing how much you have eaten. Victims of PMS can eat their way through anger, rage, whining, crying, anxiety and laughter again and again until they reach the bottom of the container.

The series also features “I Need Some More” – which is full of mint chocolate chips, and “I Think I’m Dying” – a sweet strawberry flavor. The strawberry package bears a countdown of sorts, listing the different days and the various things women tell themselves to get through the monthly process:

Day One: it’s only just begun
Day Two: hell is coming
Day Three: can’t turn back now
Day Four: only a few more days
Day Five: dear god make it stop
Day Six: please tell me it’s over
Day Seven: sweet relief

Parker’s fictional products are sure to make women (and men) who are familiar with the different stages of PMS laugh. As I’m sure we all know, sometimes PMS can be no laughing matter. It definitely is a shame that this ice cream isn’t available to buy…. (Via DeMilked)

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Fuco Ueda’s Surreal Paintings Of Skeleton Girls And Flaming Butterflies

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Japanese artist Fuco Ueda paints colorfully morbid pictures, full of sad and mysterious girls, glowing fauna and beautifully detailed flora. Ueda’s world is a quiet and magical one; a place where fireflies, bees and butterflies buzz and whirr past girls with long green hair and skeleton hands. Her characters are mischievous yet appear innocent; they are deceptive and deceitful, yet charming and magnetic. They seem like they are in a state of limbo – like they are making the transition from life to death, and are losing bodyparts along the way. The girls are usually surrounded by hitodama: balls of fire thought to be a spirit of the dead.

Ueda’s work is a dreamy look at the scope of human emotions. She shows great sympathy toward the human condition and wears her heart on her sleeve. The gallery that curated her latest show sums it up:

[She] portrays the feeling of loneliness that exists within dreams and reality through paintings of floating illusions. In her depiction of innocent female characters surrounded by natures bounty you get a glimpse of the “deep psyche of the human mind.” Despite bursting with intimacy, there are sounds you can almost hear but can’t and things you can almost grasp but are out of reach. (Source)

The exhibition that features Ueda’s latest work is curated by Gallery Kogure in Tokyo and is called Japanese Human Sensors. Showcasing four talented Japanese artists, the show is on at Jonathan Levine Gallery from April 4th until May 2nd. (Via Spoon Tamago)

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Photographer Bares All In His Series About Nude Hikers (NSFW)

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Roshan Adhihetty regularly takes off his clothes and photographs other people without theirs on either. Despite what that sounds like, the series he has put together is a tasteful, candid look at a popular past time. Die Nacktwanderer, or The Nude Hikers captures groups of hikers reconnecting with nature and immersing their bodies into their surroundings. Growing up in Lausanne, an area which is quite accustomed to nudity, Adhihetty is no stranger to seeing the human body without clothes on. But after visiting his first nudist beach in Corsica, he decided to take a closer look at the culture of nudity, and in particular, the modern trend of naked hiking. He says:

Nudity and Nature have always been big subjects in art. Inspired by the romantic paintings I was hunting for photographs which feature this tension between romantic nature and disturbing contemporary elements – an opposition between nature and culture. (Source)

His photographs are a brazen look at a subject not often talked about, and sometimes even sneered at. But Adhihetty portrays his subjects with respect and grace, after he had to put himself in their shoes, so to speak. After tracking down a group of willing participants through Craigslist, the photographer had to join them in the buff to be allowed his camera on the hikes. Along with his other observations, Adhihetty realized that many of his subjects were male, and women only make up about a fifth of the hiking population. He notes that this is most likely linked to the social pressures and judgements our current society places on the female figure.

Hopefully with projects like this photographic series, we will stop seeing the naked body as only a sexual thing, but also as a very natural way to exist in the world around us. (Via Feature Shoot)

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Sophia Narrett ‘Paints’ With Wool In Her Romantic Embroideries

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Sophia Narrett‘s detailed fictional scenes look like luscious oil paintings, but once you look closer, it’s clear they are a bit more special than that. She uses thread, wool and fibers to build dark and romantic narratives of men and women in group settings. The actions in each embroidery are at first unclear and seem a bit suspicious and foreboding. Her pieces are a bit like an illustration from a murder mystery. Growing up watching reality dating shows and reading books about romantic courtship and Victorian matchmaking practices, Narrett depicts a world that is cheesy, yet sublime and magical. The figures in her scenarios are camp characters in a glamorous story looking for happiness.

After switching from painting almost exclusively with oil paints to experimenting with embroidery and stitching, Narrett soon found the materials and techniques that suited her. She explains more to The Huffington Post:

As I continued working in embroidery I became interested in the repercussions that embroidery holds for the image and story, as well as the way that it dictates the process. As the emotionality of the narratives heightens to that of melodrama, the intense investment in the embroidery process required to create legible images speaks to the overwrought nature of the fantasy. (Source)

 

Her thread work is so rich and dense, the image seems to dripping of the canvas. Her work of beautiful fiction features women throughout, and Narrett is happy to connect the subject matter to the historical connection of embroidery being ‘women’s work’. She says this about the subject:

Of course, the embroidery connotes the tradition of embroidery as women’s work, as well as the feminist artists who subverted that history, while the paintings carry the weight of or are bolstered by the history of painting. Still I would say that my use of both mediums is primarily as a conduit for visual ideas. (Source)

And she expresses her ideas of fantasy, romance, courtship and magic beautifully. See more of her work after the jump.

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