Israel Enters Renowned Painter’s ‘World’

April 16, 2012 3:36 pm 0 comments

Associate Curator of the Jewish Museum Karen Levitov is dwarfed by the monumental work of Kehinde Wiley. Titled "Abed Al Ahse and Chalked El Aweari," this painting shows two young men in Israel. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Spiritual concepts, emotions or experiences may spark an artist’s creative imagination. Kehinde Wiley is inspired by all three.

The Jewish Museum in New York City is currently exhibiting The World Stage: Israel, a series of paintings by Wiley, in its Bloomberg Gallery. Wiley found the muse for his monumental works in traditional European Jewish paper cuttings and ancient Hebraic embroidery, integrating realistic representations of Israeli youths of Ethiopian heritage—painted with almost photographic reality.

Wiley paints in the style of traditional portraitists. His subjects, however, reflect contemporary images in a fusion of periods and styles. His work, said the exhibit’s curator, Karen Levitov, “creates a convergence of the diaspora geography of the Jewish journey.”

The 14 paintings on display are one of several groups in Wiley’s “World” series, each of which concentrates on a specific population. The groups include heroically posed African-American, Afro-Brazilian, and Indian young men, as well as the Ethiopian Israelis displayed at the Jewish Museum.

Wiley took his initial inspiration from books, noted Levitov. “Only late in his journey did he have the opportunity to explore the extensive store room of the museum and study the original embroideries and cutting patterns” he painted as his ornament keynotes, she said. His portraits integrate these patterns with realistic human figures, creating “a visual description of Ethiopian Jewish young men’s experience in Israel,” according to Levitov. Each painting on display at the Jewish Museum portrays a complex individual story.

A New York-based portrait painter whose works combine naturalistic images of contemporary individuals with traditional symbolic designs, Wiley was born in California and has a Nigerian father. His talent was evident early: by the age of 12, he had already studied art in Russia. At 20, he traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet his father. He holds degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute and Yale University School of Art.

Wiley uses a multimedia creative process including photographic imaging and fine oil portraiture. He describes his approach as “interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical and complicit.”

Kehinde Wiley’s The World Stage: Israel at The Jewish Museum in New York can be viewed through July 29, 2012. For more information visit, click here.

The Algemeiner newspaper delivers breaking news and insightful commentary from Israel, the Middle East and Jewish communities around the world | Host to an international Jewish interest blogger community covering Zionism, Israeli politics, Middle East security, terrorism, Jewish tradition, Jewish art, Jewish culture, Jewish music, Jewish activism, Jewish family and spirituality, interviews, profiles, features, video and much more. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.