Arts & Culture

Kehinde Wiley at the Jewish Museum

Contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley talks about his new show, The World Stage: Israel, which opens Friday at the Jewish Museum Read More

By / March 8, 2012
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Today in Tablet Magazine, Stephanie Butnick talks to contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley about his new show, “The World Stage: Israel,” which opens Friday at the Jewish Museum:

“The World Stage: Israel” is the fifth location-based project of Wiley’s World Stage series, which had him in China, India & Sri Lanka, Lagos & Dakar, and Brazil. The resulting portraits all feature images of men on the periphery of society in poses of dignified power. Nowhere is Israel’s social tension as artfully and breathtakingly on view as in Wiley’s bright, vivid paintings, which show men—Ethiopian Jews, Arab-Israelis, and Jews born in Israel—in all their hyphenated glory and before backgrounds adorned with intricate designs inspired by traditional Jewish tapestries and paper-cuttings.

If the subjects of the portraits look like they just strolled off the beach in Tel Aviv, it’s because they probably did. Wiley found his models during a monthlong visit to Israel in 2010, where he mined the vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv and sourced decorative patterns in Jerusalem. “A lot of what I want to do is capture a type of radical contingency within all of these moving parts,” Wiley told me. “People walking down streets minding their own business, and boom, that moment becomes the epic painting.”

Wiley’s People [Tablet Magazine]

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