Brooklyn Museum celebrates artist Kehinde Wiley

for The Brooklyn Paper
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He is a modern late Renaissance man.

Williamsburg artist Kehinde Wiley has made a name for himself creating large-scale portraiture, particularly those featuring young black men — and, more recently, women — in Harlem, rendered in a vibrant 18th century rococo style. Now, the Brooklyn Museum will celebrate these and other works by the artist with a new exhibition, opening Feb. 20. A museum curator said she first invited Wiley to exhibit at the museum three years ago, and the show — dubbed “A New Republic” — has been in the works ever since.

“You’ll see his response in the exhibition — he went all out,” said curator Eugenie Tsai.

Wiley’s work is characterized by dense patterns, dialed up colors, and a juxtaposition of modern subjects with old world styling. Nearly 60 works will be shown, including a homage to Auguste Clesinger’s 1847 marble sculpture “Femme piquee par un serpent” (or “Woman Bitten by a Snake”), a bronze bust of a man in a hoodie, and six stained-glass windows. The latter pieces are a particular highlight, Tsai said.

“The chapel with the stained glass panels definitely stands out,” she said. “You can spend a long time marveling over the deeply saturated colors and varied patterns and textures.”

Wiley is known for exploring race, power, politics, and stereotypes in his work. Visitors to “A New Republic” can expect to see selections from his ongoing “World Stage” series, which studies the lives of people in India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jamaica, Nigeria, and other countries. An entire gallery will also be devoted to his portraits of women in a series titled “An Economy of Grace,” Tsai said.

“The Brooklyn Museum is committed to presenting the work of Brooklyn-based artists, from the under-the-radar to those with name recognition,” said Tsai. “Wiley is an outstanding example of a Brooklyn-based artist who has achieved recognition both locally and globally.”

“Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. between Washington and Flatbush avenues in Prospect Heights, (718) 638–5000,]. Feb. 20–May 24. $16 suggested contribution ($10 members and students, free for ages 19 and under).

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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