The Wow of Kehinde Wiley: The Prelude

This exhibition at the National Gallery was woefully under-advertised, but so mesmerising and gripping if you can find this free exhibition. So glad a friend told me to go! and I did!

Inspirational, romantic, epic, vat canvases and yet hidden in plain sight (like David) less romantic subjects — the life threatening perils of travelling by boat to a better life, or of being a black or brown person in a cold, frozen, hostile? white landscape.

Beautiful portraits — but the film was the thing! His somewhat cold subjects posed and shivered (and played) their way around the beautiful and overpowering landscape of Norway, juxtaposing their own ethnicity, culture and beauty against a very uniform white landscape with joy and dignity, and as individuals.

Yet the way to fight against all this whiteness was to start a fire — I read into this burning and warfare to begin with, but it could also be the fire of skills, genius, creativity — more Promethean and romantic. Dazzlingly captured — but please give the subjects some gloves, (their poor cold hands!) I found myself shivering at times in empathy.

Can’t do the size of the images justice here. Not sure the gallery space could either!

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