Today’s all about celebs. We have a celebrity blogger today, in the shape of Vicki Sleet of the fabulous I Want That blog, and she’s nabbed us a bona fide celebrity interview. Take it away, Vicki:
With just a few more games until the big showdown, World Cup fever is in full force all over South Africa. In Cape Town, sports brand Puma has come to the party in a big way by showing their prowess both on and off the field – functions, exhibitions and even a pop up store in the CBD are just some of the things happening on their programme of events.
The Kehinde Wiley Legends of Unity Exhibition, featuring portraits of three of Africa’s greatest footballers is a definite must-see. This LA-born artist has been compared to some of the greatest portrait painters of our time and his colourful realist creations are truly mesmerising.
I caught up with Kehinde for a quick chat last week and this is what he had to say about football, his life, Africa and what makes him tick…
Q Tell us a bit about yourself and your connection with Africa?
I didn’t grow up with my father and came to Nigeria when I was 20 looking for him so much of my work is about this yearning to connect with Africa. I had a desire to connect, not just on an idealistic way. I have been back many times since but this is my first time to South Africa.
Q When did the art thing happen for you?
I grew up in LA in the 1980’s when it was rife with gang violence, my mother decided ‘we’re going to pull you out of the streets on the weekends to create a different path for yourself” and that was art school where she sent me and my twin brother. For some reason it stuck with me – I remember going into museums in Los Angeles and seeing the great portraits and wondering what the hell was going on. It was at once alienating because we were very poor but at the same time, with the grandiose powder puff wigs of society portraits, it was beguiling.
Q What art do you have your eye on now?
My next American show is going to be all about women from under-served communities within New York. All of the paintings will be based on the great society portraits of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Q Do you see yourself as a social commentator?
At its best my work has a direct relationship to the truth of what’s going on on the streets. I think feel social art for ‘good’ is boring – the best art comes from a place where curiosity rules rather than politics – and I’m curious about people, there’s some crazy, fun people out there and you never know what you’re going to find – we wanna know people’s stories.
Q Describe your process?
My work is about more than paintings on a wall. These are stories. A hundred years from now how will people look at this images – will they know about the fact that this exhibition was related to the first time that Africa was seen in a context outside of war, disease and famine?
Q Was this project an eye opener for you?
Absolutely! I had no idea of how people live for soccer. I was jumped into this world where there are people who are obsessive about their teams…it amazed me that there are people who can’t leave their countries because they are such fanatics!
Q Where’s next on your agenda?
I’m doing a project where I am following the path of the Ethiopian Jews in a painting exhibition based on their experiences. I’ve been working all over the world for the last ten years and every year it’s a different nation (14 nation in four months)
Thanks for your time Kehinde!
The Puma X Kehinde Wiley Legends of Unity Exhibition runs until 3 July at Studio One, 186 Bree Street, Cape Town
For more on the Puma Unity project, click here.