We are delighted to announce a collaboration between Kehinde Wiley and The National Gallery, London on an exhibition of new work, which will be presented in Trafalgar Square this winter.
For his first collaboration with a major UK gallery, Wiley will depart from portraiture to explore artistic conventions and modes of representation in the European landscape tradition – mountainous, coastal, sublime, transcendental – through the media of film and painting.
Wiley’s first film installation, 'Narrenschiff' (2017), was a contemporary response to the Ship of Fools theme, popular in European culture from the late 15th century. It featured a group of young Black men at sea, struggling to reach the land – a metaphor for both historical and contemporary histories of migration and social dislocation. Building on these themes at the National Gallery, Wiley will explore European Romanticism and its focus on epic scenes of oceans and mountains, and humankind’s relationship with nature. The film included in this project will feature Black Londoners that Wiley met and cast for the film on the streets around the National Gallery.
Situated in the Sunley Room, in the midst of the Gallery’s collection, this free exhibition will draw out the dynamic relationship between Wiley’s work and the National Gallery’s historical landscapes and seascapes by artists such as Claude, Friedrich, Turner and Vernet.
National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says “We have been in conversation with Kehinde Wiley since early 2019 about working together on National Gallery Collection-related themes. He will be engaging with the sublime landscape tradition in Western painting and I look forward to his strong and distinctive take on this subject.”