Amref Honours Artist Kehinde Wiley with the Rees Visionary Award at ArtBall 2024

Amref Honours Artist Kehinde Wiley with The Rees Visionary Award at ArtBall 2024
Kehinde Wiley by Brad Ogbonna © Kehinde Wiley

Amref Health Africa (Amref), the foremost African healthcare organization in the world, will honour the African-American artist Kehinde Wiley at their event ArtBall 2024, best known for his portraits that render people of colour in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings, including his most famous subject, Barack Obama for the National Portrait Gallery. Amref’s Rees Visionary Award, named after their founder Dr. Thomas Rees, honors individuals who have changed the discourse around African and Black art.

Amref Honours Artist Kehinde Wiley with the Rees Visionary Award at ArtBall 2024
Kehinde Wiley by Brad Ogbonna
© Kehinde Wiley

“Amref’s commitment to strengthening Africa’s health infrastructure is crucial and I particularly want to acknowledge their programs in Senegal and Nigeria, two countries that are of significant importance to my journey. I am grateful to be recognized with the Rees Visionary Award for my artistic practice and my founding of Black Rock Global Arts Foundation, which is on a mission to support new artistic creation and to incite change in the global discourse about what Africa means today.” Kehinde Wiley

The night will feature a Contemporary African and Black art auction, entertainment, open bar, thoughtful food integration, and an award ceremony. With art curated by Storm Ascher, Natalie Kates, Cierra Britton, Alexandra Giniger, and Nadia Nascimento, select donating artists will be highlighted. ArtBall will take place in Brooklyn on May 4, 2024.

“Amref Health Africa is thrilled to honor Kehinde Wiley at ArtBall 2024. ArtBall was started to not only raise funds for our healthcare work but also to celebrate the greatness of the African continent through art and culture. Every year at the event, we honor an artist with the Rees Visionary Award.

The award is named after our late founder, Dr. Thomas Rees, who was a pioneering reconstructive surgeon, pilot, author, musician, and sculptor. This Award is given to artists we feel are not only changing the narrative around African and Black art, but also creating exceptional work that educates, inspires, and emboldens the viewer through these challenging times. This year, we chose to honor Wiley and celebrate “Black Presence”, aligning with his focus on reclaiming the presence of Black people: their royalty, their martyrs, and their everyday lives, in the world of fine art.”

– Emily Correale, Director, Amref Health Africa

Amref Honours Artist Kehinde Wiley with the Rees Visionary Award at ArtBall 2024
Kehinde Wiley, The Three Graces (Coumba, Mariama, Rokhaya), 2023.
© Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
About Amref Health Africa (Amref)

Amref Health Africa (Amref) is dedicated to empowering African communities by providing accessible, sustainable, and culturally sensitive healthcare solutions. With a committed team of predominantly African staff, we strive to improve the health and well-being of individuals and families throughout Africa. Through community-based initiatives, we aim to enhance healthcare access, promote preventive care, and foster a sense of ownership over health, ultimately creating a healthier and more resilient Africa for all. Last year we reached over 31 million men, women, and children across the continent.

About Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles) is an American artist best known for his portraits that render people of color in the traditional settings of Old Master paintings. Wiley’s work brings art history face-to-face with contemporary culture, using the visual rhetoric of the heroic, the powerful, the majestic and the sublime to celebrate Black and Brown people the artist has met throughout the world. Working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, and video, Wiley’s portraits challenge and reorient art-historical narratives, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain muted.

Amref Honours Artist Kehinde Wiley with the Rees Visionary Award at ArtBall 2024
Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Yadiel Arrozaceno Dorticós, 2023.
© Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York

In 2018 Wiley became the first African-American artist to paint an official U.S. Presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former U.S. President Barack Obama selected Wiley for this honor. In 2019 Wiley founded Black Rock Senegal, a multidisciplinary artist-in-residence program that invites artists from around the world to live and create work in Dakar, Senegal.

Wiley is the recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts, Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, and France’s distinction of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. He holds a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, an MFA from Yale University, and honorary doctorates from the Rhode Island School of Design and San Francisco Art Institute. He has held solo exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally and his works are included in the collections of over 50 public institutions around the world. He lives and works in Beijing, Dakar, and New York.

©2024 Amref Health Africa (Amref)

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