“Randerson Romualdo Cordeiro (The World Stage; Brazil)” by Kehinde Wiley
I went out to get the mail today and peeped Mr. Wiley himself on the cover of Juxtapoz this month. I must say it’s about time because dude has been blowing up for a minute now doing portraits for the hip-hop honors, a clothing line, and a shoe collabo with Puma. However, I haven’t heard him discuss the connection/intersection between his sexuality and his artwork very often (which is shocking because his portraits, although not nude, evoke what seems to be very intentional erotic undertones).
Juxtapoz did ask, however. Here’s a piece of the interview:
Since you’re a gay man, which youth culture often finds hard to come to terms with, did the guys you cast care or know? Is there even a need to be upfront about that?
That’s a very important question. I think a lot of people prefer not to talk about that part of the work because so many other aspects of it satisfies even the most homophobic that they just deal with it.
Like the aspect of power?
Sure, but power and sexuality are so intricately laced for me I can’t separate them really. Yet there’s another part of the art-consuming public that’s fascinated by this because there has been very little space for a type of Black male sexuality to be expressed that isn’t hyper-sexualized. For me, I’ve been able to exist in the world of Black male representation because I’m in the art world and it’s almost expected that there be some weird shit in there. You know what I mean? It’s like art world street cred, “oh, and he’s gay too.”
Male beauty is a pursuit that’s a very fixed and specific vocabulary. We feel comfortable talking about the vocabulary surrounding beautiful women because women have been relegated that type of power. That’s the power they’re said to posses most strongly in the world. Men feel emasculated when associated with that type of power because they feel it’s superficial and they have “actual” power, material power. Any serious man, even if he possesses physical beauty as a type of power or currency within the world, would never discuss it as such because it’s considered effete. The fear of the illusive disarming strength of beauty, all that stuff, is a very potent and strong calculus with the black body, which is fun to play with. I’m really having a fun time pulling these strings and seeing what happens.
It’s interesting to hear his take on, and understanding of being kind of “exotified” in the art world by having all of these unique identities at work (unique to the art world canon at least). But he still didn’t speak to the dialogue that happens between him and the men who pose for him. That would also be interesting to hear.
I must say that the rest of the article is also quite interesting, as well as the beautiful images of his work. check it out if you have a chance…