The artist who painted former President Barack Obama’s presidential portrait, unveiled on Monday at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, has a disturbing pattern of painting violent beheadings of white people.
Kehinde Wiley, who is known for primarily painting black people, was chosen late last year to paint Obama’s official portrait for the Smithsonian. When asked by the British newspaper, The Guardian, about Obama contacting him to do the portrait, Wiley gave an awkward response.
“I can’t,” Wiley said. “I’d like to. I can tell you that I’m the first African-American artist to create the portrait of the president. It’s a huge responsibility.”
What is even more perplexing is why Obama chose Wiley to paint the portrait, considering his other paintings that display violence toward white women, showing black people beheading them.
A profile on the artist — the style he is known for is inserting African Americans into old European works of art. For instance, the decapitation paintings are from a deuterocanonical story of Judith & Holofernes but with an added gender/racial dynamic.https://t.co/XgCjetpyvj
— Jerry Dunleavy IV (@JerryDunleavy) February 12, 2018
Some of these paintings are reproductions of European masterpieces depicting Biblical scenes, with black characters replacing the protagonists.
Wiley’s painting of Michelle Obama, also revealed on Monday, was widely mocked on social media for not looking anything like her: