The Kehinde Wiley Empire

Julian Lucas at The New Yorker:

Few have won bigger than Wiley, whose good fortune has taken him from an enfant terrible of the early two-thousands, when he became known for transfiguring hip-hop style into the idiom of the Old Masters, to one of the most influential figures in global Black culture. He was already collected by Alicia Keys and the Smithsonian when his official portrait of Obama, unveiled in 2018, sparked a nationwide pilgrimage. Now, following the success of Black Rock Senegal, a lavish arts residency he’s established in Dakar—soon to be joined by a second location, in Nigeria—Wiley is shifting the art world’s center of gravity toward Africa with a determination that combines the institution-founding fervor of Booker T. Washington and the stagecraft of Willy Wonka. No longer just painting power, he’s building it.

In Brussels, Wiley was searching for models to confect into the image of royalty for a site-specific show proposed by the city’s Oldmasters Museum. The challenge was familiar.

more here.