Q

Painter Kehinde Wiley's radical twist on classical portraits

From the Best of Q: Painter Kehinde Wiley explains his radical twist on classical portraits.
Artist Kehinde Wiley paints a portrait in his Beijing studio. (William Peña)

New York-based artist Kehinde Wiley did not see people like him reflected in the Western-European canon; so, equipped with his easel, his politics, and a steady hand, he began to paint them in.

The artist, who grew up in South Central L.A., has won acclaim with his radical twist on classic portraits. He started with urban black men and later branched out to paint women that reminded him of his sisters, his mother and contemporary black women he met on the streets of New York City.

In a conversation from the Best of Q, the artist joins guest host Kevin Sylvester to explain why he was nervous about painting female subjects, the identity politics that motivate his work, and the world view he details in the new documentary, Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace. 

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