An artist who rose to fame as the first African-American artist to officially paint a US president – Barack Obama in 2018 – has now done the same for current and former African leaders.
Kehinde Wiley has done 11 paintings featuring a series of portraits of African heads of state, including Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Nigerian former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde.
His exhibition, Kehinde Wiley, A Maze Of Power, has just opened at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris, France and will run until January 2024.
The portraits were 10 years in the making, he says in a documentary about his work.
Between 2012 and this year, he travelled around Africa meeting various leaders, discussing themes such as the history of aristocratic, royal and military portraiture in 17th to 19th Century Europe.
He used these discussions to inform his work, creating compositions which illustrate the singular view of each leader on what it means to be a contemporary African leader.
“This is a look at the presidency itself. This is an invitation for the viewer to expand the possibilities of what it means to look at art in Africa, about Africa, and about power.”