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President Barack Obama - Kehinde Weily (2018)

Size: 84 x 58 inches

Medium - Oil on Canvas

In the grand 7-by-5-ft. painting, unveiled in a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery on Feb. 12, Obama, is seated in an ornate brown chair, which combines 18th century and turn of the 20th century motifs, it is a great way of setting up the president, who combines in himself, very different cultures and worlds, according to Kehinde Weily. His arms folded neatly across his lap. He is serious and poses conventionally. Bright green vines illuminate the background; buds of lilies, chrysanthemums and jasmine are peppered throughout. They each represent important moments of his life. The African blue lilies represent Obama's father's home in Kenya, Chrysanthemums are the flowers of the city of Chicago, where Obama met Michelle and started both his family and political career. The Arabian jasmine is a flower which thrives in Hawaii, where the President spent much of his youth.

There is a fight between him and the plants in the foreground as to who gets to be the star of the show. Barack Obama made history in 2009 by becoming the first African American president. Obama's skin is glowing as if lit from within, he sits calmly, as he appears to lean towards the audience, his collar unbuttoned which projects a great level of openness which was not seen in other portraits. He also gazes directly connecting with the viewer. The artist portrays the values of the president through this painting. His portrait is life size, which enhances sense that you, the audience is connecting with the painting. The creator of this masterpiece is Kehinde Weily, he is known for his vibrant, large-scale paintings of African Americans posing as famous figures from the history of Western art.

Manesha Peiris (2022)