By now you’ve probably seen the much talked about official portraits of former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, painted by artists Kehinde Wilkey and Amy Sherald.
Wilkey is famous for painting historical themed portraits and reinterpreting them with a more modern twist. In 2010, he painted King Phillip II but used Michael Jackson’s face instead. Not everyone’s cup of tea but art is odd.
But it also seems that Wilkey also painted some portraits featuring black women decapitating white women.
In a 2012 explanation of the art, the North Carolina Museum of Art stated “Judith and Holofernes is from Wiley’s most recent body of work and his first series of paintings to feature female subjects. Wiley translates this image of a courageous, powerful woman into a contemporary version that resonates with fury and righteousness.”
Wiley himself says his inspiration came from the Biblical scene by Renaissance artists Caravaggio and Gentileschi. No comment on why the race of Holofernes is portrayed as white.
Is this anything? Maybe not. Did Obama know about the 2012 portrait? Possibly but who really knows.
However if the painting had been done by a white artists and depicted white women chopping the heads off black women, there undoubtedly would have been an uproar and cries of racism.