Kehinde Wiley, the artist chosen by former president Barack Obama to paint his official portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, has come under scrutiny after his painting of Obama was unveiled Monday morning.
In his speech at the unveiling ceremony Monday, Obama noted that he had several things in common with the artist, stating that they both had American mothers and African fathers, and that neither of their fathers were active in their lives.
Obama declared that “what I was always struck by when I saw [Wiley’s] portraits was the degree to which they challenged our ideas of power and privilege.”
Wiley’s work certainly “challenges our ideas.” Some of his prior paintings include black women holding the severed heads of white people.
Several Twitter users as asking if government funds were paid to Wiley for his portrait of Obama.
Others are noting the similarity of his chopped-off heads paintings to that of comedian Kathy Griffen, who posed for a photo last year holding the fake severed head of President Trump.
Obama Portrait Artist Also Painted Black Women Holding Severed White Heads – Well, that’s comforting. https://t.co/ktbIaKlV8o
— MRCTV.org (@mrctv) February 12, 2018
— 🇺🇸BigLongFreedomStick🇺🇸 (@QueJayma) February 12, 2018
— Meme Chaos (@ExtinctMedia) February 12, 2018
Another lovely portrait by Obama artist Kehinde Wiley showing a black woman decapitating a White person. pic.twitter.com/KMnigXwun3
— GRANT J. KIDNEY 🇺🇸 (@GrantJKidney) February 12, 2018
I’m very glad that Kehinde Wiley, a black gay man and artist who just did a beauty portrait of Obama, is trending during Black History Month. ITS SO LIT pic.twitter.com/xZB7rT4LKm
— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) February 12, 2018
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 12, 2018
In his speech at the unveiling, Wiley brought up race, noting what an honor it was to be the first African American painter to paint the first African American president.
Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind Barack Obama’s presidential portrait: “The ability to be first African-American painter to paint the first African-American president…it doesn’t get any better than that.” pic.twitter.com/PzTCZNETOH
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 12, 2018
Obama Chose Queer, Black Artist Kehinde Wiley As His Official Portraitist https://t.co/njAHuwn1mh
— LGBT History Month (@LGBTHM) February 12, 2018
The following video is set to begin where Obama told how he “bonded” with Kehinde Wiley, and all they have in common, explaining why he chose Wiley to paint his portrait.