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What Is Art?: Kehinde Wiley’s Works

People have always tried to display somehow and pass on to their descendants all the most beautiful things. To do this, they used various forms of art. However, to this day, there is no clear definition of this unique notion. Different people can have their unique concept of art. For me, both written and visual art is a way of communicating with the outside world.

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Artists of different eras depicted the reality around them as if they wanted to send a specific message to their descendants. Art is a way of visual and written communication between the master and the audience. It differs from other types and forms of social activity in that it is addressed to the emotional sphere of a person, which is very powerful in securing attention (Menninghaus et al. 1). Therefore, art is the most accessible and universal form of human communication.

The artist who was selected for the research is Kehinde Wiley. He is best known for painting the formal portrait of Barack Obama (Crow 1). This made him the first black artist to paint such a portrait of a president. Wiley is also known for paintings in which he depicts young African-Americans dressed in the latest hip-hop fashion against a background of bright patterns. The African-American artist aims to expand the number of black figures in the canons of painting.

By creating these works, the artist draws the attention of society to the life of the Black community. Wiley focuses the audience’s attention on the police brutality towards African-Americans. In addition, the artist’s works raise the topic of racial discrimination in modern society. Kehinde Wiley, through his works, shows how much more modern society has to overcome in order to reconsider its attitude to the African-American community.

As mentioned earlier, art is a way of communication between an artist and people. Through their work, they intend to convey a particularly important message to society and raise critical issues of the modern world. Therefore, Kehinde Willey, in the works, raises the topic of negative attitudes and racism towards African-Americans. The artist, through such depictions, makes society think and change its priorities to create a better world.

Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley.
Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley.
Young Tree Shots on Jinggang Mountain
“Young Tree Shots on Jinggang Mountain”.

Works Cited

Crow, Kelly. “Obamas Choose Rising Stars to Paint Their Official Portraits.” The Wall Street Journal, 2017.

Menninghaus, Winfried, et al. “The Distancing-Embracing Model of The Enjoyment of Negative Emotions in Art Reception.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 40, 2017.

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