Ke­hinde Wi­ley, an al­ready fa­mous Nige­rian-Amer­i­can por­trait painter was at the cen­ter of the world. Why? He was re­veal­ing his por­trait of the 44th Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica, Barack Hus­sein Obama, at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery, Wash­ing­ton. THISDAY STYLE TEAM ahead of his ar­rival in Nige­ria and at the Sum­mit, hap­pen­ing Oc­to­ber 30th and 31st spoke to KE­HINDE WI­LEY on his artis­tic prac­tice Isn’t it al­ways nice when we are first at some­thing? There’s a par­tic­u­lar sense of pride when we, as in­di­vid­u­als, do some­thing that has never been done be­fore and make our marks on the sands of time. One such per­son priv­i­leged enough to fall into this cat­e­gory is Nige­rian-Amer­i­can, Ke­hinde Wi­ley, the first Nige­rian-Aner­i­can who painted Bar­rack Obama, also the first Amer­i­can black Pres­i­dent. Of course when such stars emerge, we are quick to ac­knowl­edge their roots es­pe­cially if they are one of our very own. Watch­ing him be­ing in­ter­viewed on CNN made me happy. For a coun­try like ours, that has suf­fered and is still suf­fer­ing so many knocks and chal­lenges, not to men­tion fol­lowed by never end­ing neg­a­tive press glob­ally, it is re­fresh­ing when the good works of a son of the soil is ac­knowl­edged and cel­e­brated. Al­though Ke­hinde grew up in Amer­ica, he is quick to talk about the pos­i­tive im­pact his mother had in his life. To her, he gives credit for his growth and cho­sen ca­reer. And also her en­cour­age­ment and abil­ity to steer him in the right di­rec­tion which helped him build his path to the suc­cess story he is to­day. I have to say Nige­rian par­ents, es­pe­cially moth­ers, truly go the ex­tra mile when it comes to the de­vel­op­ment of their chil­dren. That be­ing said, some truly ta­lented peo­ple have not been lucky or for­tu­nate enough to horn in on their skills ei­ther through lack of funds or gen­er­ally lack of in­ter­est or en­cour­age­ment. They do not in­vest the time, ded­i­ca­tion and ef­fort into this skill to achieve the mas­tery they need to have to make a liv­ing out of it. But to­day, Art is one of the most buoy­ant busi­nesses to run. So artistes, the good ones that is, are in hot de­mand. Their works are be­ing sold all over the world and sim­ply put...their time has come! Many more Ke­hinde Wi­leys are emerg­ing from our shores than ever be­fore as they con­tinue to set the global stage on fire with their as­ton­ish­ing works. Truth be told, Art is one field where our artistes are com­mand­ing as much fig­ures as most of their global coun­ter­parts. Many of their works have been sold and show­cased in some of the world’s big­gest gal­leries. Artistes, though not the best of busi­ness­men, have been ap­proached by many art deal­ers who have helped in el­e­vat­ing the value of their works thus giv­ing them their well earned re­spect.

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