The exhibition « Kehinde Wiley: an archaeology of silence » is presented at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a collateral opportunity of the 59th Venice Biennale and dramatizes the brutalities of the colonial past through the language of the fallen legend.
This exhibition incorporates a set of new and large works and sculptures that extend the reflection created around his work made from around 2008.
Initially inspired by Holbein’s « Dead Christ in the Tomb », as well as authentic artworks and models of champions and fallen figures in a state of repose, Kehinde Wiley has created a shattering series by conceptualizing traditional pictorial structures into a contemporary interpretation of a stunning image, which resonates with savagery, torment, death and joy as a method of reflecting on the homicide of young individuals of color around the world.
For the artist, innovation now allows everyone to be an observer of this wickedness, once appeased. Thus, he makes sense of the fact that the archaeology he uncovers is the ghost of police nastiness and state control over youth groups of all backgrounds around the world. Given the current global conflicts, the language of struggles for control and basic freedoms is more important today than at any other time.
These new works depict youth of color and women in situations of weakness, telling a story of endurance and flexibility, discovering that magnificence can always emerge from repulsion.
These positions, acquired from verifiable sources in Western European art, function as wonderful requiems, repeating a central representation of youth and flexibility. They are markers of perseverance and determination in spite of brutality, consolidating a point of view that goes beyond the mere mortal field and welcomes the realm of the symbol of the afterlife, martyrdom and sanctity.
The exhibition « Kehinde Wiley: an archaeology of silence » is curated by Christophe Leribault, president of the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie, who in 2016 presented « Kehinde Wiley : Lamentation », the artist’s most memorable exhibition in France at the Petit Palais.