Since Obama’s portrait was unveiled, I’ve received a flurry of text messages from outraged artist friends I made while living in New York. No, they weren’t outraged because they saw Kehinde Wiley’s other painting that feature black women murdering white women. They were outraged because Kehinde Wiley is a terrible artist who only rose to prominence, something they have been attempting to do their entire lives, in the art world because he is a racist gay black man.
Back in April 2012, Wiley New York magazine wrote a glowing piece covering Wiley and his “global reach.” When Wiley was asked about one of the anti-white paintings in his studio, his response is not only shocking but shows a complete lack of any sort of intellectual depth:
A tall, elegant black woman in a long blue dress—the canvas is enormous, eight feet by ten feet—calmly staring down the viewer. In one hand, she holds a knife. In the other, a cleanly severed brunette female head. “It’s sort of a play on the ‘kill whitey’ thing,” Wiley says. […]
That unabashed bombast has made Wiley a walking superlative: the most successful black artist since Basquiat, possibly the wealthiest painter of his generation, certainly the one who made his name earliest (he was 26 for his first major solo show), a gay man who has become the great painter of machismo for the swag era, a bootstrapper from South Central who talks like a Yale professor (much of the time), a genius self-promoter who’s managed to have it both ways in an art world that loves having its critical cake and eating the spectacle of it, too, and a crossover phenomenon who is at once the hip-hop world’s favorite fine artist (Spike Lee and LL Cool J own pieces) and the gallery world’s most popular hip-hop ambassador. Not to mention an all-around positive guy.