Who Is Kehinde Wiley?

About a week ago, I discovered an amazing artist who I had never heard of, despite the past few months of vigorous art blog and e-zine browsing.

There was a segment in one of my favorite fantasy shows, The Secret Lives of The Super Rich, that covered the growing popularity of Art Basel among the art-loving 2 percent.  The segment followed an older couple who, among a select group of other wealthy collectors, enjoyed a “first dibs” browse of the works on display.  I found it quite funny that the narrator of the show mentioned that there seemed to be.. ” alot of really expensive stuff that shouldn’t be called art”.  This couple, however, was looking for real art.  Something new and exciting to add to their current multi-million dollar collection.  From what I observed, they bought at least 5 different works of “art”.  By the end of the spree(which lasted about an hour), the couple was reported to have spent around $300,000!

One of the works that they purchased was a kind of second-chance offering for another painting that had already been sold.  In fact, the curator literally pulled it from a nearby closet.  It was an original oil painting by renowned artist Kehinde Wiley.  A beautiful 96″ x 72″ canvas from his An Economy of Grace series.  Although both paintings were shown for only a few moments, I could tell that it had been painted by an artist of considerable talent.  The buyers were familiar with the artist and did not blink at the $125,000 asking price!

PRINCESS VICTOIRE OF SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA, 2012

A few days after recording that episode, I went back to my DVR to review the segment again.  I pressed replay several times so I could catch the name of the artist.   After 5 or 6 replays, I kept hearing “Candy Wiley”.  I knew that first name couldn’t be right, but I searched it in Google anyway.  Maybe enough people had misheard the name as I did.  Of course, Google made the connection(and the correction) and offered the artist’s name and website within the results.  Wow!  I must admit that I have not seen or heard of such a celebrated African-American painter since Jean-Michel Basquiat.  I’m sure that statement has been made many times over during Mr. Wiley’s rise to prominence, despite that fact that their painting styles are completely different.

I guess what surprised me the most about my discovery of Kehinde Wiley is that without having any prior knowledge of the artist, I developed an opinion – even a mental image of who I thought the artist might be.  Based on a few glimpses of his work, I was thoroughly impressed.  It was apparent that the subject in all of the paintings was a brown-skinned male or female – painted with the skill of a renaissance master.  I am ashamed to admit that I did not expect the artist to be African-American.  I questioned why a (white)artist would focus solely on black/brown subjects.  I doubted, momentarily,  that a black artist could be a modern master.  I was pleasantly surprised(and humbled) to learn otherwise.

Related Links:

Artsy’s Kehinde Wiley Page

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From The Unknown

When I have the rare moment to research artistic inspiration from around the world, I do so objectively.  I cannot say that I have an absolute favorite artist any more than I have a favorite genre, period or subject.  Regardless, I am attracted to the work itself and how it moves me.

I will occasionally use the in-site filters to sift the results down to a selection that is most relateable to me.  Meaning,  the artist or the work resembles myself and the work that I like to create.  On my favorite sites such as Artsy.com or Saatchi.com, I usually only filter by Region(United States), Style(Abstract/Contemporary), and Size(Large).  I browse the works of the emerging artists and well-established artists.  Sometimes, I can’t tell the difference regardless of the press(or prices).  I simply look for pieces that catch my eye.  Pieces that furrow my brow and perplex me.  During my searches, I am also placing myself somewhere in the mix.  Constantly questioning what kind of impression my work would have on the casual art browser or (even better)the avid art collector.  I suppose that I am both building my own wishlist as well as envisioning my own success as an international artist.

I am far from obtaining either at the moment.  Yet, I continue to search for exquisite pieces to add to my expanding virtual art collection.  I live vicariously through artists who are making a name for themselves. Some seem to have been randomly-yet-lovingly, plucked from the global pool of the unknown and ushered into museums and galleries to be offered huge commissions and command 5 and 6-figures for their paintings.  Others, display such talent and mastery in their work, that there is no question as to why they should be celebrated.  I would gladly walk either one of those roads to success.

An Itch Leads to Art!

Well…   Actually, it’s the scratching that makes the art.  But, you’ll soon get the picture!  I haven’t done any scratch art since grade school.  I’m sure you too can remember that project  in elementary school art class, when you scribbled several colors on a glossy, white sheet of paper.  Then, you painted over the colors with black paint and let it dry.  You could hardly wait for the following class when you used various utensils to creatively – yet gently remove the paint, unleashing the psychedelic colors from underneath their dark blanket!  So cool!

These little 5″ x 7″ pieces are sort of the same thing – just without the psychedelic colors.  They are prefabricated scratchboard panels available in various sizes.  I chose the smaller sizes since I wasn’t sure what I would come up with.  I now have some larger boards waiting to be scratched.

Seriously…

Welcome!

For some time now, people who were curious about my artwork  have been asking me if I had a website where they could go to see more of  my work.  The truth is, I have posted many of my older drawings and paintings on several public, art-specific websites over the years.  I must admit,  however, that I have never created a site that I could say was “my” website.  Today, I thought to myself…  Why not?  Why shouldn’t I create an online  home for my art and ideas?  Why have I not yet staked my claim in the vast online universe?  Well…  That time has come!

I have enjoyed the experience of having some of my artwork on public display.  It’s inspiring to have strangers admire and/or critique one’s work.  I have even managed to sell a few pieces!  Still, I was not taking my art seriously until I underwent a couple of life-altering(but not life-threatening) events – including the loss of  my very own rent-free and commission-free display space.  Sure, I’ve recently been offered the chance to come back and display my work again.  But, I’m sure that it won’t be the same as it was before.  I can honestly say that I didn’t fully capitalize on that awesome opportunity the first time around.  Such is life!

Art has been one of my hobbies for more than 30 years.  Those who know me refer to it as more of a gift than a hobby.  Hobby, gift, or whatever you want to call it, I think it’s time that I take it a little more seriously!   …and see what happens.

This will be the place where everyone can come and enjoy(or not enjoy) my own unique, artistic expressions.  I will be working on the site daily!  I’ll constantly be adding photos of my work both old and new.  I strongly encourage your comments, the comments of your friends and comments of your friends’ friends!

 

Herb