At the end of last April, I saw the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Wiley is best known for his portraits of everyday Black men in heroic poses that are often based on old master paintings.
The exhibit was breathtaking, and the experience of walking into the first gallery of the show is something I will never forget. Mad props to the Brooklyn Museum for creating the most moving and dramatic entrance into a show that I have ever encountered. A lot of the paintings in this show were huge–up to 96″ x 72″ and even larger; and they were beautiful, every single one.
As much as I loved the paintings, I loved seeing the Black men at the show even more. Their expressions ranged from amused to rapt to proud, and I wondered what it must have felt like to walk through an entire exhibition of works celebrating their beauty and power.
Several of the drawings in this part of the 1001 Black Men series are the result of me looking at real-life Black men looking at Wiley’s paintings of Black men. The background of each of these drawings evokes the richly patterned backgrounds for which the artist is known.