“Portrait of Andries Stilte II” – Kehinde Wiley, 2006

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I think it’s a reminder that not everything done with a paintbrush is ‘high art’ and worthy of respect. If he was doing this with print media or something, it wouldn’t seem as bad would it?

It’d just be tat for rappers. If he sat in a board room and came up with an idea like “lets have a guy all covered in bling, but, like, riding a horse like that Napoleon picture, that shit would look sick”, and then a team of Chinese printers printed it, and then he sells it for a million dollars, you’d think “well thats just gaudy bullshit for rich rappers”; you’d blow it off in the same way you blow of the idea of rich women buying million dollar handbags because they have some special logo on them.

But because instead of Chinese printers, they are Chinese PAINTERS, with BRUSHES, people seem to think *”Oh! What genius! How the soul is touched by such grace and magnificence as I find within the frames of this fine canvas! This man is a visionary! One of the greats of our generation!”* because they think that that is the correct way to react to a painting, because painting enjoys such a high reputation for genius compared to other mediums. And so people start to say silly things like “He is one of the most gifted and creative people of our generation” because they think that is what they are supposed to think when they see a clever painting. There is no way they would be saying this is he was making these same images on magazine covers or music videos instead of painted canvases.

It’s like how people who enjoy comic books say that the medium doesn’t get enough respect – even if a comic is clearly a work of genius, a real masterpiece, it is still viewed as ‘just a comic’, never art. I feel painting sometimes has the OPPOSITE problem. If someone makes a success of themselves as an oil painter, people don’t just say “that’s decent, that’s good” it’s always “FANTASTIC! REVOLUTIONARY!” – people will tend to over hype the work, view it as genius when it is just a mediocre piece of half-cleverness, and would be rightly regarded as such if it had been presented in any other less respected medium.

It’s a funny game to be in!

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