NIGERIAN Artist Kehinde Wiley has been chosen by former President Barack Obama to paint his official portrait for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
At the end of each presidency, the museum partners with the White House to commission one official portrait of the President and first lady.
Michelle Obama selected artist Amy Sherald, who is known for his life-size paintings of African-Americans, to paint her portrait.
Both Obamas’ portraits will be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in 2018, where they will be added to the museum’s permanent collection.
Wiley’s work adds a modern twist to re-imagined Western classic paintings, showing contemporary African-Americans in theatrical poses.
One of his works takes on Jacques-Louis David’s famous portrait of Napoleon crossing the Alps atop his favorite horse, Marengo. Wiley’s reinterpretation shows the same white horse, but ridden instead by a black man in camouflage and Timberland boots.
“What I choose to do is to take people who happen to look like me — black and brown people all over the world, increasingly — and to allow them to occupy that field of power,” Wiley said.