Kehinde Wiley's Pomp and Black Circumstance

Hey, where did LL Cool J go?

Flashy eye-candy: Three Wise Men Greeting Entry Into Lagos, 2008
Courtesy the artist and Deitch Projects, New York

Flashy eye-candy: Three Wise Men Greeting Entry Into Lagos, 2008

In many ways, Wiley is a symptom of the age—or maybe a victim of the era and his own success. He shows with Jeffrey Deitch, the impresario whose mission seems to be to fuse art with entertainment. Like much of Deitch's youth-culture-heavy stable, Wiley's flashy eye-candy painting is framed as edgy and subversive, but it sidesteps the heavyweight, head-on politics of artists like Glen Ligon. By comparison, Wiley is glossy, market-ready, and safe—unless the feel-good, one-world/one-love vibe is a ruse, a way of making a large population fall in love with paintings that they might, under clearer circumstances, reject.

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