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Obama's Portrait Artist Is Known for Paintings of Black People Beheading White People

The official portraits of the Obamas were unveiled today to much buzz and criticism. The artist who painted Barack Obama's portrait is Kehinde Wiley, a well-known, far-left gay painter whose work is racially charged. Anyone with eyes can see Wiley uses race as his main subject. The New York Times pontificated endlessly about his edgy and important work highlighting injustice.

"He redresses the absence of nonwhite faces in museum masterpieces, 'using the power of images to remedy the historical invisibility of black men and women,' as Eugenie Tsai, the curator of the Brooklyn Museum show, observes in the accompanying catalog," the Times wrote.

Wiley's shtick appears to be taking famous paintings and recreating them with black people in order to represent blacks in Western masterpieces. (This, of course, begs the question of whether Wiley thinks white people are underrepresented in Asian art or in African art where very few white people are depicted.) His version of "Judith Beheading Holofernes" is raising eyebrows on social media.

The original painting by Caravaggio is a depiction of the apocryphal tale of Judith, who saved the Jewish people from death at the hands of Assyrian general Holofernes by seducing him and then cutting off his head in his sleep. In Wiley's painting, a black woman is holding the decapitated head of a white woman. Media Matters thinks white people should not be alarmed at this depiction because it's just art, stupid.

"As a response to the unveiling of former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, pro-Trump trolls launched a smear campaign against artist Kehinde Wiley, claiming a painting of his symbolizes an attack against white people and that the artist 'seems racist,'" reported Media Matters. 

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio (via Wikipedia)

But on close inspection, it does indeed seem racist. In the story of Judith, the brave woman sees that the Assyrians are going to starve out her people and so she goes to the oppressor and tricks him and seduces him until she has the opportunity to kill him. In reworking this painting, Wiley chose his victim carefully. It wasn't an Assyrian male he chose but a white woman. If the painting is supposed to mirror Caravaggio's masterpiece, then the white woman is the oppressor and the black Judith is the hero destroying her. It doesn't take a genius or even an art major to figure out what the artist is inferring.