The background of your portrait…. should be: In color (at least two) Patterned – similar to fabric – reminiscent of Kehinde Wiley’s portraits. Expressive of or related to the artist’s personality or alter-ego. Mrs. Siddons, 2012Oil on linen72" x 60"
(From his artist statement – www.kehindewiley.com) Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world.
Basically, Wiley reproduces classic portraits – replacing the subjects of the paintings with young black men he meets on the street. He often replaces the backgrounds of these images with tapestry-like patterns. NOTE: he also uses the title of the original painting he’s reproducing… Equestrian Portrait of the Count-Duke Olivares, 2005Oil on canvas108" x 108"
What are some things you notice about these backgrounds? • How do they relate to the people depicted in the portrait? BarthélémyToguo, 2012Oil on canvas22 " x 18"
Leviathan Zodiac, 2011Oil and gold enamel on canvas95.75" x 71.75" Mizrah, 2011Oil on canvas36" x 48"
JonatonSchimittBarcellos, 2008Oil on canvas48" x 36" Mary Litte, Later Lady Carr, 2012Oil on canvas30" x 24"
You may have noticed that the patterns in the background often overlap the people in the portrait. • What can you do to relate the pattern to the image you’re trying to portray? • What can you depict in that pattern – what objects, shapes and colors can you use – to add meaning to your portrait? Puma World Cup Africa CollaborationSamuel Eto'o, 2010Oil on canvas72" x 60"
Many of you asked about drawing hoods… Ivelaw Study, 2010Oil on paper53" x 40" Head of a Young Girl Veiled Study, 2010Oil on paper40" x 26.5"
Not all of Wiley’s portraits have fabric-like patterns in the background. Making a simplified, patterned background will help you focus on putting more detailed effort into your portrait. If you wanted to turn this background landscape into a fabric pattern, what objects, shapes and colors might you use? How would you simplify the objects (into outlines or solid shapes) to repeat them in a pattern? Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson), 2010Oil on canvas128" x 112"