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In Black Light, his first monograph, Wiley’s larger-than-life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men. The models are dressed in their everyday clothing, most of which is based on far-reaching Western ideals of style, and are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. This juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new”—who often have no visual inheritance of which to speak—immediately provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope.
Without shying away from the socio-political histories relevant to the subjects, Wiley’s heroic images exhibit a unique modern style that awakens complex issues which many would prefer remain mute.
Hardcover, 56 pages