Despite observing the month of Ramadan which is always a sober and reflective season, New York-based Nigerian-American artist Kehinde Wiley brought some life to the Muslim dominated country of Senegal when he launched his new residency program in the West African nation.
Known for painting the official presidential portrait of Barack Obama, Wiley, who came along with notable celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz held a memorable and exhilarating launch party for his Black Rock Senegal multi-disciplinary residency program in Dakar on Sunday.
Located in the Yoff Virage village, the Black Rock Senegal building is everything African. Wiley sanctioned local Senegalese architect Abib Djenne to help design the magnificent building. The interiors were also designed with the assistance of Senegalese designer Aissa Dione. A standout feature of the residency is its 20-foot-tall main doors which are made with Amazakoue wood from Cameroon.
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According to Black Rock Senegal, the residency program will afford selected international visual artists, writers, and filmmakers the opportunity to join and work with Wiley at his studio for between one to three months.
Residents will also meet with local artists, artisans, and arts organizations in and outside Dakar. Black Rock Senegal further states that it “seeks to support new artistic creation by promoting conversations and collaborations that are multigenerational, cross-cultural, international, and cross-disciplinary” and “takes its physical location as a point of departure to incite change in the global discourse around Africa in the context of creative evolution.”
Kehinde Wiley is widely known for his exciting, highly naturalistic portraits of African-Americans, including his most popular creations of young African-American men in their latest hip-hop street fashion items.
Wiley, who was born in Los Angeles, California in 1977 to a Nigerian father and an African-American mother, was once described by the Columbus Museum of Art, as an award-winning artist whose heroic portraits “address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture.”
One of his greatest works is the 2005 “Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps”, which was based on the Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David.
Take a look at some photos of the memorable launch party and how those who joined him spent their time on the westernmost point of the coast of Africa: