The Figge Art Museum, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport, has acquired an early painting by renowned American artist Kehinde Wiley.
Wiley is best known for being selected and commissioned to paint the official presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, a news release says.
The untitled oil on plywood panel painting recently acquired by the Figge was painted in 1998 while Wiley
was an undergraduate at the San Francisco Art Institute. He graduated with a BFA in 1999 and earned his MFA from Yale in 2001. This work demonstrates Wiley’s artistic mastery and vision while still a young
man, the release says.
Wiley was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018.
“The untitled painting is from an early series when I was a student, exploring the figure in a landscape,” Wiley said in the release. “It was during this body of work that I began formalizing my relationship with the body
and the ground, with the field and the sitter. Actually visualizing the landscape itself as a type of timeline,
where the horizon line represents the past while the figure represents the present tense.”
“These are notions of past and present which run throughout the history of the Western canon of painting. I was specifically interested in pointing to the notion of malleable identity, whether as who you are now, who
you have been, or who you might be perceived as ‘being,” Wiley said. “This was a useful metaphor for me in that respect, because I was engaging it as a type of signifier of layers—layers of identity, layers of self, layers
of sexuality, gender, etc.”
“We are overjoyed to have acquired this important early work by Kehinde Wiley. His mastery of the
medium at such a young age should serve as inspiration for young artists in our community and beyond.
We are fortunate to include this wonderful work in the Figge’s increasingly diverse and important
permanent collection,” said Figge Executive Director and CEO Michelle Hargrave.
Wiley’s history-making portrait of Barack Obama is currently on a five-city tour. It will be on exhibition through Aug. 15 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Figge’s untitled Wiley painting will be on view in the Figge’s Quad City Bank & Trust Grand Lobby
through Sept. 24. The painting will be on permanent exhibition on the museum’s second-floor
beginning Saturday, Sept. 25.
For more information, visit here.