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9 December 2009

MJ — by Kehinde Wiley & on fire

I’ll admit it. I get off on death. Skeletons. X’d eyes.

No, not the phenomenon itself, but certainly the aftermath — the way it makes you consider what comes ahead and what came before. It’s not a kink but a forced form of contemplation.

I am pretty sure that the popular position of contemporary art insiders is that Kehinde Wiley‘s work is as crass as my sentiment. But I like it and, in this piece unveiled this past weekend at Miami Art Basel, Wiley makes it clear that crassness is the way much of our culture operates. This portrait, in its echos of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens classes up the crassness, while pointing out that our flaws are the same as they’ve ever been: pretense, greed, a put-on nobility that belies who we really are. (Note the MJ depicted in the painting bears little resemblance to the entertainer at the time of his death.)
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Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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