Kehinde Wiley is a leading young American painter, famous for his portraits weaving urban culture, hip-hop, and contemporary design with the classical paintings of the late Renaissance period. UCCA will present his work to China for the first time this March. With a studio in both New York and Beijing, Wiley’s portraits place black and brown urban young men from around the world in poses from famous art historical works of their respective cultures. This past year, Wiley worked together with Sportlifestyle brand PUMA to gather inspiration from Africa and help celebrate the upcoming World Cup to be held in South Africa. Wiley painted a series of four paintings creating a team united despite political borders: he painted three portraits of Africa’s most decorated football stars, and a fourth entitled Unityof the three players posed together.
Over the past two years, Wiley developed this project, choosing different cities as locations for temporary studios, and engaged in local dialogue. The works in the “World Stage” series are all products of his peregrinations. China was the first stop on Wiley’s tour. He established a studio in Beijing and began his project with a study of propaganda art of the Cultural Revolution.
On a separate project, Wiley travelled through Africa this last year with PUMA sponsored football stars; Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, John Mensah of Ghana and Emmanuel Eboué of the Ivory Coast. After which, Wiley painted three individual portraits of each player. He also painted a fourth Unity Portrait of all three players together, symbolizing the united countries of Africa to celebrate the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.
On March 21st, UCCA along with PUMA will host a Children’s workshop to create and explore the inspiration that comes from Wiley’s works. That afternoon, Wiley will give an Artist Talk at UCCA, meeting with his Chinese art fans. During the exhibition, a vibrant new PUMA African Motion line inspired by Kehinde Wiley’s works will be available in the UCCASTORE.