The Senegalese Opening that Pulled Big Names in Showbiz

It’s Sunday night in Dakar, and Naomi Campbell is vaping. Alicia Keys is taking selfies with fans by the open bar, her husband, the producer Swizz Beatz, bobs his head nearby and Kehinde Wiley, the American artist who brought everyone here, is dancing so close to the infinity pool that some guests at the launch party for his new residency program — Black Rock Senegal — wonder aloud if he’ll fall in. Black Rock, named after the volcanic stones on the shore, is a departure from many art projects in Africa, which tend to be supported by or commissioned with foreign money. Outside pressure can hinder free expression, experts say, when creators feel pushed to cater to tourists or aid workers.Wiley, who was born in Los Angeles to an African American mother and a Nigerian father, is known for his polychromatic renderings of black models with old school twists. He first visited Dakar two decades ago on a layover from Nigeria, where he’d gone to find his estranged dad, an architecture professor in the southern state of Akwa Ibom. Wiley’s program has grabbed the brightest spotlight, thanks to the buzz in 2018 from his official portrait of former president Barack Obama. The presence of his top model and Grammy-winning pals doesn’t hurt, either.SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST

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