The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar was Kehinde Wiley’s (b. 1977) first solo exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem and featured ten new paintings from his multinational “The World Stage” series. Wiley is known for his stylized paintings of young, urban African-American men in poses borrowed from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European figurative paintings, a practice he started in the early 2000s while an artist in residence at the Studio Museum. Over the last two years, Wiley has expanded his project by living and working abroad; he temporarily relocates to different countries and opens satellite studios to become familiar with local culture, history and art. His “The World Stage” series is the result of these travels.
Wiley’s first trip was to China, where he placed his models in poses based on Chinese propaganda art from the Cultural Revolution. The World Stage: Africa, Lagos ~ Dakar, organized by Christine Y. Kim, featured paintings from Wiley’s next stops, Senegal and Nigeria. For this exhibition, Wiley’s models mimicked historical public sculptures from Dakar, Senegal, and Lagos, Nigeria. Wiley received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2001 before becoming an artist in residence at the Studio Museum. His work is represented in the collections of several museums, including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Brooklyn Museum; Denver Art Museum and Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Recently, his work was featured in exhibitions in Belgium, Los Angeles, Chicago and Ohio.