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Kehinde Wiley was honored at ArtBall 2024 with the Rees Visionary Award for his revolutionary work in blending cultural narratives and transforming African and Black art perceptions.


Kehinde Wiley by Brad Ogbonna.jpg


As the resonance of ArtBall 2024 lingers, the event’s zenith was the celebration of Kehinde Wiley, an artist who has profoundly reshaped the dialogue around African and Black art. Amref Health Africa, the leading organization committed to enhancing Africa’s health systems, honored Wiley with the Rees Visionary Award. This accolade aptly reflects his deep impact on the art sphere and beyond.

Wiley, known for his vibrant portraits that blend Old Master techniques with modern cultural narratives, reimagines the portrayal of people of color, embedding them within classical art traditions. His renowned depiction of Barack Obama exemplifies Wiley’s unique synthesis of historical depth and contemporary relevance.

The Rees Visionary Award, inspired by Amref’s founder, Dr. Thomas Rees, acknowledges those who significantly alter the conversation on African and Black art. Wiley’s recognition highlights his notable contributions, especially his role in establishing the Black Rock Global Arts Foundation. This venture aims to inspire artistic innovation and ignite discussions on Africa’s contemporary significance by inviting global creatives to explore the continent’s diverse cultures.

Kehinde Wiley, The Three Graces (Coumba, Mariama, Rokhaya), 2023. © Kehinde Wiley. Courtes


Expressing his appreciation, Wiley stated, “Amref’s commitment to strengthening Africa’s health infrastructure is vital. I’m honored by the Rees Visionary Award and the recognition of my work and the founding of Black Rock Global Arts Foundation. Our mission is to nurture new artistic creation and reshape conversations about Africa’s role today. By hosting artists and thinkers in Africa, we foster deep connections with the continent. I eagerly anticipate celebrating this vision at ArtBall with Amref, Black Rock, and other partners, embracing Africa’s vast potentials.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1977, Wiley’s journey to international renown, marked by his historic presidential portrait, underscores his innovative artistry. His creation of Black Rock Senegal, an artist residency, underscores his commitment to cultural dialogue and artistic development.

ArtBall 2024 was more than a celebration of Wiley’s achievements; it was a testament to art’s ability to alter societal narratives and bridge divides. Reflecting on the event, Wiley’s pioneering artistry and dedication to expanding global conversations on Africa’s artistic influence inspire a vision of a future where art unites and transforms. |

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