Thursday 19 July 2018

Final commissioned portrait of Michael Jackson displayed in the UK

The painting will feature in a public exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The last portrait commissioned of Michael Jackson is going on public display in the UK (Yui Mok/PA)
The last portrait commissioned of Michael Jackson is going on public display in the UK (Yui Mok/PA)

By Andrew Arthur, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

The final portrait to be commissioned of Michael Jackson before his death will go on public display for the first time in the UK.

Artist Kehinde Wiley’s painting of the Thriller singer will feature in a major new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The collection is called Michael Jackson: On The Wall, a pun on the late singer’s 1979 album Off The Wall, and has been produced in co-operation with Jackson’s estate.

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Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) by Kehinde Wiley (2009)

Curated by the gallery’s director Dr Nicholas Cullinan, it will explore Jackson’s influence on contemporary visual art.

Wiley began painting Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) months before Jackson’s death at the age of 50 in 2009.

It draws inspiration from Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ 17th century oil painting of Philip II of Spain. It depicts the King of Pop in full body armour and a blue cape astride a white horse with cherubs flying above his head.

Wiley, who was also selected to paint the official portrait of former US president Barack Obama, described collaborating with Jackson on the work as “extraordinary”.

He added: “His knowledge of art and art history was much more in-depth than I had imagined.

“He was talking about the difference between early and late Rubens’ brushwork.

“One of the things we talked about was how clothing functions as armour. And if you look at the painting, he’s on horseback in full body armour.”

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The singer’s ‘dinner jacket’, designed by Michael Lee Bush will also be displayed.

In addition to Wiley’s painting, Jackson’s “dinner jacket” covered in forks, spoons and knives made by costume designer Michael Lee Bush will also be exhibited in Britain for the first time.

A total of 11 new works made specifically for the exhibition by contemporary artists will be available to see.

Dr Cullinan said: “All of the artists included in the exhibition – despite coming from different generations, perspectives, and parts of the world, and employing a range of media – are fascinated by what Jackson represented and what he invented.

“It has been a great pleasure to work with so many leading artists and I am extraordinarily grateful to them for their commitment to the exhibition.”

Michael Jackson: On The Wall will open at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday and will run to October 21.

Press Association

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