Kehinde celebrates the glory of African football without breaking a sweat…
Gearing up for the massive global throwdown that is WORLD CUP, fashion sportswear brand PUMA has teamed up with KEHINDE WILEY in a poignant celebration of African football. The company sponsors a total of 12 African teams, four of which have qualified for the World Cup being held this year in South Africa. Wiley created portraits of three Puma-sponsored football stars; Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, John Mensah of Ghana and Emmanuel Eboué of Ivory Coast with each player wearing their national team kits.
A fourth “Unity” Portrait was painted with all three players together, symbolizing the united countries of Africa. The players’ pose was inspired by a pendant Wiley discovered while touring the Continent. In the “Unity” Portrait, the players are wearing the Puma Unity Kit, a limited edition uniform designed to be a third kit shared by all African teams, symbolizing greater African unity. The brown pigment in the kit is a customized Pantone created by mixing actual soil samples from four different African nations—Ghana, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire and Mozambique. The brown to blue color gradient represents the soil to the sky progression. In each portrait, Wiley captures the essence of each player using the rich heritage, customs and people of Africa as inspiration.
The individual portraits, measuring 5 feet by 6 feet and the “Unity” portrait measuring 9 feet by 12 feet, were unveiled in Berlin on January, 20 2010. The portraits will then travel as an exhibition beginning in February to Paris, London, New York, Beijing and Milan, ending in South Africa in June for the World Cup.
Born in Los Angeles to an African American mother and a Nigerian father, Wiley describes his relationship with Africa as “one of searching and longing.” Kehinde, which means “second born of twins” in Yoruba, grew up without knowing his father and curiosity led him to Nigeria at the age of 20 to retrace his roots. Upon meeting his father, Wiley completed a series of portraits of him, and later, in 2007, returned to Africa to compile a body of work entitled “The World Stage: Africa Lagos-Dakar,” which was exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Kehinde’s distinctive patterns (taken from local African sources) will appear in Puma’s Spring/Summer 2010 Africa lifestyle collection of apparel, footwear and accessories. The Seven graphic patterns from Wiley’s existing work are integrated throughout the bright, bold, color-blocking patterns of the collection, including a limited edition Kehinde Wiley football boot. HAVE A LOOK: