Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Keepin' It Real With Kehinde

He Can Paint and Make a Statement

Kehinde Wiley
Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro, 2008 (from The World Stage: Brazil)
Oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

If you have plans next Thursday, April 2nd, say 7 p.m.-ish, break them! Artist Kehinde Wiley will speak at the Getty Center about his work and his upcoming exhibition, The World Stage: Brazil, at Roberts & Tilton in Culver City. Wiley has been one of those artists that I have admired for several years now. His fresh approach to painting and dynamic use of historical references makes him one of the brightest and most innovative artists out there.

(Above) Jacques Louis-David's Bonaparte Crossing the Alps at Grand-Saint-Bernar, 1801

After receiving his M.F.A. from Yale in 2001, Wiley made a name for himself by painting large-scale canvases of young African-American males reenacting religious and classical portrait poses of centuries past (you know, the ones that were only reserved for the rich, powerful and obnoxiously white.) His artistic repertoire also includes some notable Hip Hop sitters, including Ice T, LL Cool J and Grandmaster Flash. Empowered by the medium of the masters along with a skilled hand, Wiley invites the models to come by his studio and flip through various art history books that he has collected through the years. The models are then instructed to pick their favorite paintings and poses, thereby allowing them to envision themselves in a specific scenario or environment that they feel coincides with their individual personalities. And then Wiley takes care of the rest. He sets up a mesmerizing dialogue between himself, the [historical] artist, as well as the sitter. The end result is portraiture with vivid personality, buttressed with contemporary elegance and class that is befitting of Hip Hop royalty. Even if the subject matter does not strike you, the self-evident triumph of technique will. Trust me, these works will blow your mind!

(Above) Kehinde Wiley's Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005

Kehinde Wiley, The World Stage: Brazil, April 4 – May 30, 2009 at Roberts & Tilton, 5801 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Phone: (323) 549-0223; Opening Reception Saturday, April 4th, 6 – 8p.m.

Kehinde Wiley on His Art and Its Influences lecture Thursday, April 2, 2009, at the Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium, 1200 Getty Center Dr. Los Angeles, CA; Phone: (310) 440-7300; Admission: Free; reservations required.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

View Not So Clear From the Top Of The Hill

Critical Seeing...

Mike Boehm's article in today's L.A. Times seemed to be a fair piece of reporting that clearly outlined the complexities of the Getty as an organization, not to mention the low morale and lack of support the staff has for Jim Wood. On a somewhat disturbing note, I found some of Mr. Wood's comments quite outrageous. Specifically, the one alluding to calls for a reduction in his compensation. According to The Times, Mr Wood implied that the Getty's problems were "too big to be solved by such 'piecemeal' measures." Say, what?!?! Is it just me, or has he [and Trust leadership] clearly not been paying attention? To my recollection, the comments on the Silence Dogetty blog have never alluded to the fact that a reduction in Mr. Wood's compensation would alleviate all of the Getty's financial woes. What it has alluded to is the fact that there are no easy answers to this complex financial dilemma. It also mentioned that Mr. Wood could do wonders for staff morale by just cutting his own salary -- he doesn't have to wait to hear from the Board, in May, on that one. Furthermore, doing so would not mean that he was somehow caving into the petty demands of the majority of the staff, but rather recognizing that these changes are real and should affect everyone, including senior leadership -- again, just re-stating the obvious.

View of the West Pavilion at the Getty Center.

So what's next for the Getty? Well, it appears that the Getty Trust will continue their silent routine at least until the end of May, when the Board makes a final determination on the budget. In the meantime, the dismayed staff will most likely keep the pressure on The Trust via the Silence Dogetty blog. From a purely observational standpoint it would seem that in recent months online activity of this ilk, coupled with internal pressures, has led to the premature departure of some prominent arts leaders in L.A. Namely, Jeremy Strick (MoCA -- http://www.mocamobilization.org/) and Richard Koshalek (Art Center College of Design -- http://futureofartcenter.blogspot.com/). At this pivotal juncture, all eyes are on Mr. Wood and how he will play this one out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Art Reviews Coming to a Blog Near You...

Question: When Is TMITF Going to Review Gallery Shows Again?

Answer: SOON!

It's tough working a 9-5 job and still have enough energy to go out and review a show on the weekend. Thanks for all of the concerned e-mails flooding my mailbox at tmitf.info@gmail.com. YES, I will be reviewing more shows in the next couple of weeks. Thank you to ALL of the gallery directors who are constantly reminding me that I need to visit them and write about their emerging talent. I don't want to make any promises, but I think the end of March will be a good month to visit this site more frequently than usual. In the meantime, please check out my Twitter feeds on the right-hand side-bar. I do update that with everyday links to news items that I find newsworthy...and some that are just plain interesting!!!