Out Magazine is slowly rolling out it's annual Out 100 list of the most influential gay and lesbian people during 2009 and making the list is international artist Kehinde Wiley. You may not be familiar with this artists name or even his face but his stunning work has appeared all over the place from New York to Brazil.
A 2001 MFA graduate of Yale University, Wiley is known for his unique brand of art where old European portraiture meets modern hip-hop culture. Much of his art is inspired by and consists of everyday people found in his New York city neighborhood. His work challenges the perception of black men as hyper-masculine and hyper-sexual beings by using soft backdrops.
"As a culture we've in some ways codified the decorative as belonging to the feminine, and I am depicting young black men who are perceived as being hyper-sexual with a propensity towards sports and anti-social behavior- these things are codified as being very masculine-and by juxtaposing that with something seen as being feminine I think we sort of blast through both type of super nova that lays bare the absurdity of these codes to begin with."
I implore you to visit Kehinde Wiley's official website to watch him talk about his art and his creative process by clicking on the media link. It would be time well spent.