In a series of paintings that effectively travels from Western museums to the heart of Asia, Kehinde Wiley employs a highly performative style of representation. In The World Stage: India~Sri Lanka, his position is informed by the post-colonial and the subaltern. The stated aim being to interrogate and “brutalize” the supposed authority of art history, “to consume it, empty it out, and posit something that is completely unexpected and different. Which in that, would be the Black body in fine art, in paintings.
Wiley’s panoply of young men appear in the chromatic colors of the south. Their dark skins, which may be read as emblematic of class, play against their gestures, which mimic those of temple icons, ungainly in working class hands. The frames, decorative and defining, return our gaze to the busy, occasionally boisterous locale, one that links ancient pasts in a large swathe from the deserts of North Africa to South Asia.