“That is the archaeology I am unearthing: The spectre of police violence and state control over the bodies of young Black and Brown people all over the world.” - Kehinde Wiley
As I was walking through the dimly lit halls of this show this morning, all I could think about was the news of the umpteenth shooting in the US, the one in Buffalo where a 19 year old killed 10 people. In a way, I felt like I was at the crime scene.
And that was it. I realised I had no desire to read about the exhibition, there was no need. Simply because the link between the works and the topic was so painfully clear. Wiley's figurative language of the fallen hero, the theme of the show, speaks to the everyday reality of racially-motivated crimes. These black youngsters may look peacefully asleep, but their contorted poses tell a different story.
Wiley continues to challenge and reconceptualise the Western canon with monumental paintings and statues that boldly aspire to berninesque plasticity. Today I also noticed a big nod to the blue landscapes of the Renaissance. In short, Wiley does his usual Wiley thing: it's grandiose, it’s decorative, it's relevant, and it works.