Spotlight—Selections from Kehinde Wiley’s The World Stage: Israel

March 20–September 2, 2018

About the Exhibition

Don’t miss your chance to see two works from The World Stage: Israel by Kehinde Wiley, who was recently commissioned to paint President Barack Obama's official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

For The World Stage: Israel, Wiley chose his subjects from nightclubs and shopping districts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Lod, elevating everyday people into contemporary royalty through his majestic grand-scale portraiture. The two young men depicted here are from Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community. While sitting for their portraits, the men shared stories of their challenges as recent immigrants and of the joy they find in reclaiming a sense of community through hip-hop music. In these paintings, Wiley celebrates their complex identities as Israeli, Jewish, and African. Surrounded by vivid patterns drawn from Jewish ritual art, the men gaze back at the viewer with pride. They transcend stereotypes of nationality and illuminate the multicultural core of Israeli society.

About the Artist

Kehinde Wiley, originally from Los Angeles, currently lives and works in Beijing, Dakar, and New York. His paintings reside in the collections of over forty museums. Known for his larger-than-life canvases that endow anonymous men and women of color with power and status, Wiley was most recently commissioned to paint President Barack Obama’s official portrait, unveiled in February 2018 at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.