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Obama appoints Nigerian-American artist, Kehinde Wiley, to create official potrait

Former US President Barack Obama has appointed Nigerian-American artist, Kehinde Wiley, to create a potrait of him (Obama) for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

The gallery announced this recently at the commissioning of the museum’s official portraits of the former US president and his wife Michelle.

Wiley is well known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African Americans like Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Michael Jackson, and many more.

Wiley first showed interest in painting Obama in 2008 when he said: “I’d love, love, love to do his official presidential portrait. I’m actively campaigning.”

He continued his “campaign” in 2012 when he told BBC that: “I think it would be really interesting to paint Obama.

“I’ve done several studies in the past, I’ve sort of worked out different strategies about how that would be, but it’s a very curious possibility. We’ll see where that goes.”

Michelle Obama picked Amy Sherald to work on her portrait. It will mark the first time that black artists would be hired by the museum to create a portrait of a former president since it started commissioning portraits in 1994.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former President and First Lady,” said Kim Sajet, director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

“Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

At the end of each presidency, the museum partners the White House to commission one official portrait of the ex-president and one of his spouse.

The Obamas portraits will be unveiled at the museum in early 2018.

Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles, California in 1977. His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American.

 

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