Former U.S. President, Barack Obama, has picked Nigeria’s Kehinde Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait.

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery while making the announcement said Wiley is an exciting choice for the presidential portrait.

Wiley, a hip-hop portraitist, is known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs.

The New York-based artist will have a novel spin on the traditionally formal composition.

Wiley has painted rappers LL Cool J in the style of John Singer Sargent, Ice T as Emperor Napoleon by David, and young African American men in stained glass tableaus, like saints in a cathedral.

Born to a Nigerian father and an African American mother, the background of his paintings reference African cloth patterns, snaking through the composition to give further clues on his subject.

The Obamas’s portraits, which will surely draw selfie enthusiasts, will be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC next year. 

See some of Wiley's work below. 

Kehinde Wiley

  

 

 

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