Art is about changing what we see in our everyday lives and representing it in such a way that it gives us hope.
Painting is about the world that we live in. Black men live in the world. My choice is to include them.
The beauty of art is that it allows you to slow down, and for a moment, things that once seemed unfamiliar become precious to you.
At its best, what art does is, it points to who we as human beings and what we as human beings value. And if Black Lives Matter, they deserve to be in paintings.
If you look at the paintings that I love in art history, these are the paintings where great, powerful men are being celebrated on the big walls of museums throughout the world. What feels really strange is not to be able to see a reflection of myself in that world.
My style is in the 21st century. If you look at the process, it goes from photography through Photoshop, where certain features are heightened, elements of the photo are diminished. There is no sense of truth when you're looking at the painting or the photo or that moment when the photo was first taken.
Painting has the ability to communicate something about the sitter that gets to his essence.
If art can be at the service of anything, it's about letting us see a state of grace for those people who rarely get to be able to be seen that way.
My work is a contemporary call to arms. It is time to get our mojo back. To rediscover our true north.
When I'm at my best, I'm trying to destabilize myself and figure out new ways of approaching art as a provocation. I think I am at my best when I push myself into a place where I don't have all the answers.
My father is Nigerian; my mother is from Texas and African-American. My father was the first in his family to go to university. He flew from Nigeria to Los Angeles in the '70s to go to UCLA, where he met my mother. They broke up before I was born, and he returned to Nigeria.
Artists are those people who sit at the intersection between the known and unknown, the rational and irrational, coming to terms with some of the confusing histories we, as artists, deal with.
As a working artist, I became increasingly aware of the patterns we see in the street and in America, becoming globalized in terms of pop culture and global and social outlook.
Portraits are about revealing aspects of an individual.
I remember the first time I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and saw a Kerry James Marshall painting with black bodies in it on a museum wall... It strengthened me on a cellular level.
Stained glass is unique from the outside, but as a painting insider, I know that oil painting's all about light. And it's about the depiction of light, the way that it bounces off different types of skin, different landscapes. The mastery of that light is the obsession of most of my painter friends.
Art in the age of the digital image is completely different from experiencing art in physical form.
I think my life has been transformed by the ability to take things that exist in the world and look at them more closely. I think that's what art does at its best: it allows us to slow down.
The erotic and the art historical imagination is something that gets very little play when people talk about my work, and when they rarely do, they try to problematize it.
So much of the history of painting is the propaganda of self-aggrandizement.