If you like Fairey’s graphic patterning, then check out Kehinde Wiley. Wiley, a contemporary New York–based portrait painter, sets his subjects (young, urban, black males) against richly patterned, graphic textiles derived from the early European Renaissance. He recycles the settings of such iconographic European paintings as “Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” and replaces the regal Renaissance men with today’s urban youth. Much like Fairey’s work, Wiley’s art tends to make the viewer slightly uncomfortable in his unusual mixing of historical times and social classes; he wants the viewer to investigate this strangeness. By synthesizing historical and current cultural references, in each piece, Wiley provokes a discussion about the sociopolitical role of young black men in contemporary society.
If you like Kehinde Wiley’s manipulation of Renaissance subjects, then check out Jimbo Phillips.Hailing from Santa Cruz, California, Phillips is known for creating eye–catching and sometimes gory graphic designs for skateboard decks. In “Dining With the Dead” (Emmanual Guzman Pro Model), Phillips blends pop–culture influences with religious references in his design, in which Leonard Da Vinci’s Renaissance painting, “The Last Supper,” merges with the traditional Mexican Day of the Dead feast. The business of graphic art runs in the family—Jimbo’s dad, Jim Phillips, created all of the designs for Santa Cruz Skateboards back in the ’70’s and ’80’s, including the iconic “Screaming Hand.” The playful, psychedelic nature of Phillips Junior’s work is often inspired by the California art staples from his father’s time, like “surf culture, classic cars and tattoos.” Tacos and cervezas replace the bread and wine, of course.