Nigerian-born American painter, Kehinde Wiley has made the 2018 TIME’s 100 most influential list. The renowned list brings together the most influential people in the area of art, leadership and pace-setters each year.
The 40 year-old New York-based artist, painted a portrait of former United States President, Barack Obama, which was finally unveiled sometime in February.
Obama’s portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery alongside that of former first lady Michelle Obama. The paintings were revealed at the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian group of museums. The gallery has a complete collection of presidential portraits.
“How about that? That’s pretty sharp,” said Obama, who described the art as “extraordinary”. He said: “It’s my great honor to be here. It means so much to us.”
Actors, painters, musicians, businessmen, political leaders, athletes – people from all walks of life who are making strides this year have been recognized.
Kehinde Wiley is a classically, formally trained artist who is transforming the way African Americans are seen going against the grain of what the world is accustomed to.
Over the previous two decades, the Los Angeles-raised and New York City-based artist became known for his larger-than-life canvasses showing contemporary African Americans within centuries-old trappings of power and status. Many of his highly sought-after works, which sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, evoke Old Master paintings.
He’s also become known for his process of basing portraits off photographs of everyday people he meets on city streets around the world. It’s a method he first started using in Harlem, where these amateur models would choose classical images as inspiration for the resulting portraits.
In October 2017, there was a report that revealed that at the end of each U.S presidency, the National Portrait Gallery partners with the White House to commission one official portrait each of the president and the first lady.
Kehinde Wiley was then chosen by the former American President Barack Obama to draw his official portrait for the project.
Kehinde Wiley, born to a Nigerian father and an African American mother, is world-renowned for his portraits of young black men adorned in the latest in hip-hop street style.
This emphasizes the proverbial saying in the Bible: A man’s gift maketh way for him.