Roberts & Tilton is pleased to announce The World Stage: Haiti, the latest chapter in Kehinde Wiley’s global survey of countries and their respective cultures. As with previous installments of The World Stage, Wiley examines a nation’s socioeconomic conditions and culture through the everyday lives of its people, always in the context of the issue of advancing globalization.
In the minds of most, Haiti has never sparked quick associations with tranquility or beauty, and rarely as a travel destination. On the contrary, its modern history, fraught with poverty and corruption and ravaged by a devastating natural disaster, relegated it to a seemingly perpetual Third World status.
Yet, Kehinde Wiley found beauty in Haiti bringing it to the forefront by creating his own beauty pageants, in the long tradition of pageant culture native to the region. In previous World Stage iterations, Wiley conducted his castings on the streets. With The World Stage: Haiti, he employed a different approach specific to the culture: open calls on the radio, posters around the streets of Jacmel, Jalouise and Port-au-Prince culminating in beauty pageants. Across the Caribbean, pageants serve as mass entertainment events, allowing locals to do more than exhibit poise, talent and physical beauty; pageants are a manifestation of collective cultural values. Wiley’s pageant winners were chosen randomly rather than through a judging process. By showing the pageant contestants paintings of European masters on which the new works would be based, Wiley deepened the connection between both place and era.
Haiti’s colonial past, under Spanish and French rule before a revolt by slaves led to independence, figures strongly in Wiley’s current body of work. He draws from the art history of those colonizing powers, summoning parallels across time and geography. Likewise, Haiti’s rich and varied religious traditions, as well as its traditional crafts and decorative arts, inform Wiley’s modern chronicle of life and culture. The backgrounds of the paintings incorporate images of vegetation found on Haiti such as okra, brought first to the island from Africa, and sugarcane, a food product that was broadly exploited as a cash crop during slavery.
The World Stage: Haiti includes 12 paintings. Past segments of The World Stage have included Jamaica, France, Israel, Brazil, Lagos & Dakar, China, and India/Sri Lanka. This exhibition will mark Wiley’s fifth solo show with Roberts & Tilton.
Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles, received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1999, and a MFA from Yale University in 2001. His paintings are in the collections of over forty museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, California), Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, California), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, California), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York), Seattle Museum of Art (Seattle, Washington), and at the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, New York) to name a few.
In February 2015, Kehinde Wiley will mount A New Republic, a mid career retrospective exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (Brooklyn, New York) traveling to four venues. Wiley has had solo museum exhibitions at The Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), the Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus, Ohio) the Portland Art Museum (Portland, Oregon) The Jewish Museum (New York, New York), The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, New York) as well as others. His work has been the subject of ten monographs to date. Wiley is currently working on multiple projects including a monumental painting for a commission with ART in Embassies for the new United States Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The World Stage: Haiti
Published by Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California
Format: Hardcover, 11.5 x 8.75 inches/29 x 22 cm
Essays by M. Cynthia Oliver, PhD and Mike Rogge English/Haitian Creole, 64 pages, 40 color images
Available through DAP, Spring 2015
A documentary film, Kehinde Wiley The World Stage: Haiti charts the artist’s journey to Jacmel, Jalousie and Port-au-Prince. The film will be screened at Roberts & Tilton during the exhibition. To preview, please visit http://www.robertsandtilton.com/artists/wiley/haiti30-video.php
An edition will be published with 100% of the proceeds benefit Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only film school, located in Jacmel, Haiti. Ciné provides tuition-free, college training in film and television production, cinema studies, audiovisual technical training and media related micro-enterprise management. Ciné Institute is dedicated to developing Haiti’s film industry by bringing together local and international leaders in cinema and education to train and support the qualified storytellers and technicians needed to facilitate domestic and foreign production in the nation. http://www.cineinstitute.com
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