Unconventional Style

When checking out Artist Kehinde Wiley's pieces you should listen to "Get This Style" by Moka Only and Ayatollah.  Art snobs and those so stuck on classical art don't get or respect this mans art enough in my opinion.  Wiley is known around the art community for his ability to take urban figures and pop culture stars and put them on a classical portrait back drop.

 Wiley's portrait of Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson of "The Roots"

Wiley's portrait of Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson of "The Roots"

His pieces are full of color and flat out amazing if you ask me.  I wasn't even hip to him until I read a GQ magazine article about him.  Upon looking at the first few pictures and reading the first few paragraphs of the article it wasn't hard to see why he is so interesting and recognize his talent as an artist.  The artlice cited criticism from some in the art world about his technique or originality, but how can you not see the creativity in what he's doing with his work?  He was even commissioned by Puma to make an ad just before the African Cup of nations several years back which he did with several prominant African soccer icons, most notably Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon.

 Puma ad featuring international soccer star Samuel Eto'o

Puma ad featuring international soccer star Samuel Eto'o

The sheer vibrance of the color is what first gets you, then the fact that he has young urban men, women, and children, figures that the social elite wouldn't associate with art as the centerpiece is what takes it over the top.  Now Wiley clearly doesn't need me to defend his work seeing as how he now has a studio in Los Angeles, home of his humble beginnings and one in China the last that I read.  His work to me is like graffiti on steroids, and that isn't an insult at all since I consider graffitti a very underrated form of art which deserves to be in galleries all on its own.  Most, if not all of his work, you can find on his website at kehindewiley.com, and believe me there is plenty of it to see along with new projects that he's pursuing.  While Wiley has been garnering more and more attention since I first learned about him, I just feel it's a shame that many that I know of and talk to aren't more familiar with him.  It would be amazing if his work could be shown to many in low income communities, including youth that I work with as an example of what they could possibly achieve if they work hard, and all the right cards and opportunities fall into place.  I want to emphasize the word opportunity, as the American Dream that anyone, especially minorities can make it off of pure hard work is simply an illusion.  It takes luck, opportunities, and the ability to recognize and take advantage of those opportunities for people to succeed.  But for many, simply seeing what uncoventional art can do for you and how it can be appreciated may be all some of these kids need to set their sights on crafting a gift or talent they have, versus pursing the quick dollar which I also understand.  

Think of the different works of art that the world could be blessed with if we allow these young men and women who have unseen talent, be given the opportunity to sharpen their skills and focus on their craft.  It doesn't just have to be with art, it can be with science, engineering, anything.  But the bottom line is we have to notice them as someone noticed Wiley and give them a chance.  We have to urge them to continue working on their craft and foster their growth.  If we do this, there is no limit to the possibilities of humanity.