The artist who painted gruesome depictions of black people decapitating white people revealed his presidential portrait of Barack and Michelle Obama on Monday to adorn the walls of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
While the odd paintings where met with mixed reviews, to say the least, the artist, Kehinde Wiley, may have added something else into his portrait of the 44th president.
Making the rounds on social media Tuesday morning were strong suspicions that the official portrait of the former president has sperm on his face.
The rumors wouldn’t be completely unfounded. Wiley is known for putting depictions of sperm cells into his work. In his interpretation of David’s Napoleon there are swimming sperm all over the background, “as a reference to African male virility, or potentially, promiscuity,” writes Quartz’s Ann Quito.
Another of his paintings, 2006’s “St. Lucy” appears to have a background made of the squiggly little critters as well.
In the portrait of Obama, a vein depicted on the president’s left temple looks suspiciously like a sperm cell, with the head pointing to his ear and the tail whipped up toward his hairline. The odd looking vein is coupled with, just above the president’s left eye, a spot of seemingly pointless white goo that also looks like a glob of spent manhood.
An even more bizarre element to the piece are suggestions online that at least some of the painting may have created in Photoshop. Certain areas in the background match up a little too perfectly, leading to more questions about the unusual portrait.
Apparently the background to Obama's presidential portrait may very well have been done in photoshop 0.o pic.twitter.com/iR8B07QwbZ
— Kyle (@HNIJohnMiller) February 13, 2018
Born to a Nigerian father and an American mother, Wiley chooses mostly black subjects. Late last year he was selected to paint the official presidential portrait of America’s first black president. Wiley described being the first black person charged with the magnitude of a presidential portrait as a “huge responsibility” in an interview with the Guardian last year.
Obama hand-selecting the artist for such a responsibility became a stir of controversy due to the artists propensity for depicting racial violence toward white people.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) February 12, 2018
Obama's painting not only looks different, but Obama is the only one who asked an artist, famous for painting pictures of black people beheading white people, to paint his portrait – he also paints pictures of Black Panthers chopping the heads off of white women.
— NW Nanni (@nwnanni) February 13, 2018
Many of Wiley’s projects are inspired from classical European works of biblical scenes, replacing the white characters with black models. His beheading paintings are based on Judith beheading Holofernes, or the oppressed beheading the oppressor.
The same artist also painted Michelle Obama with a less than stellar response from Twitter users.
LOVE the new portrait of Michelle Obama pic.twitter.com/c4OXHhFOw6
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 12, 2018
The stylistic choice also stands out, with the frowning president seated in a throne-like chair amongst bright greenery which includes African blue lilies representing Kenya. The artist is noted as being selected by Obama partially for his work, and partially for his outspoken style about the politics of race, revealing what may have inspired the former president.
Seriously just imagine a white artist who painted white people beheading black people. Imagine if that artist was prominent enough to draw a Presidential Portrait. Imagine the Media collectively ignoring this. Why are we allowing these things to happen?
— Marc Foster (@MotherFuckingMF) February 13, 2018
The presidential portrait will be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
There’s one other thing the public has noticed about the portrait. Obama appears to have six fingers on his left hand.