Cannes, A striking madonna and child protects Cannes since Friday: signed Kehinde Wiley, it is one of the 25 works gathered at The Malmaison for the first major exhibition in Europe dedicated to the american painter who raises questions about the representation of black models in the item
Perfectly classical in its bill, the stained glass window is entitled “St Mary’s” is also a splendid mind-blowing, especially if it adorns one day a great cathedral: the child has a hair bobble, and her mother, the hair défrisé, arms bare and wide neckline, the door to the hip, molded in white pants.
Feet, she wears a big pair of boots to platform in the purest style of the “fashionista” of africa. As most of the subjects of Kehinde Widley, his gaze questioning.
Born in 1977 in a district disinherited of Los Angeles, Wiley, that is no more, or almost, since he painted the official portrait of Barack Obama entered the White House in 2008, had never had so many works gathered together for an exhibition on the Old Continent.
The stained glass window at our lady alongside four other stained-glass windows, including a Pietà male where a father in t-shirt, cap and shorts, a hawaiian holds his son in his arms, in a scene evoking both michelangelo and the famous photo of the South African Sam Nzima showing a young schoolboy black, fatally wounded by the police of the apartheid during the Soweto uprising in 1976.
For the most part, the other works on display are paintings: portraits, Tahiti and pastichant Gauguin, others posed in the former French colonies, with each time a round trip between the great classical painting and selected models in the street according to a process summarized in a short video.
“Its great question is the relation to power in the paint. In his portrait of Obama, it is represented very, very casual. Conversely, Wiley puts anonymous in majesty in postures inspired by the history of art,” observes the curator Numa Hambursin, director of the centre for modern and contemporary art of the city of Cannes.
Mona lisa american
“It draws on very large tables classic, in which he was struck, as a child, by the lack of black models”, he adds.
The artist, who shares his life between New York, China, and Senegal, and travels the world for “World stage” to meet the african diaspora, has been prevented from coming into France by the outbreak of Covid-19.
In addition to the official list of Obama to the White House, he is the author of a bronze equestrian became a place of contemplation of the movement Black Lives Matter in Richmond, Virginia (near Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The statue, inaugurated in December 2019, is the ride of a Afro-American features ultra-contemporary in the shoes of a confederate general.
There are few paintings of Kehinde Wiley in Europe and the containment has complicated the mounting of the exhibition which will be on display until the 1st of November.
However, 25 large major formats were able to be together. Obviously not the picture of Obama, “the mona lisa of american art,” according to Mr. Hambursin. “The comparison is perhaps a little exaggerated”, concedes-but “this will be a very important in the centuries to come.”
The Petit Palais had already shown to him four works, and it had already been presented in galleries in France, but never in a French public institution.
“Like it or not its work, it is secondary, it is part of these artists who are changing something, it is in the process of changing the representation of the black man in a position of power,” adds Mr. Hambursin. “The advantage of being a painter or writer is to be able to say things with a nuance that the politicians were not entitled to. His work is both on the figure of the Black, and a tribute to the european painting.”