Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage Jamaica
In the works reproduced in Kehinde Wiley: The World Stage Jamaica, the artist paints young, urban Jamaican men and women in poses appropriated from colonial-era British portraiture, who are placed against and intertwined with backgrounds from British textile designer William Morris. Wiley thus restages history: the race and gender of the colonial hero have been transformed. The dignified, strong pose refers not only to the conventions of the genre, but also to the symbolism of Jamaican culture and its particular ideals of style and beauty. Within a single frame, Wiley combines a traditional mode of portraiture, the ongoing complexities of colonialism and a proud, unique, modern culture--a narrative of contemporary Jamaica. Alongside full-color illustrations and installation images from Wiley's exhibition at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, an extensive essay from leading British-Ghanaian cultural commentator Ekow Eshun explicates the symbolism at play in Wiley's work.