The artist who painted former President Obama’s portrait for the Portrait Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution, has an interesting past. While reviewing previous works by artist Kehinde Wiley, it was discovered that he has a great fondness for painting black women beheading white women.
Both beheading pieces are titled “Judith beheading Holofernes”, referencing a story in the Book of Judith, which involves a beautiful woman who seduces an invading general before he is able to destroy their land, gets him drunk, and then decapitates him. Typical artists from the Rennaissance era have placed Judith in the role of a scriptural savior, “a type of the praying Virgin or the church or as a figure who tramples Satan and harrows Hell.” Given the historical context and how Wiley recreated it in his works, is hard to interpret his use of this theme as anything other than a blatant statement of racism; black women are the powerful angels of the earth, conquering the white devils.
Can you imagine for a second if any other former president, decided on a painter who was famous for depicting white people killing black people to paint his official portrait? It’s hard to imagine, right? Yea, that’s because it’s disgusting and backward.
Users on Twitter expressed reactions at commissioning an artist with such obvious racist leanings to paint the portrait of an American president:
If if if if if if if if if if if if if if if if
Clint Eastwood would be proud!