Artist Joseph Awuah-Darko Accuses Kehinde Wiley of Sexual Assault - The World News

Artist Joseph Awuah-Darko Accuses Kehinde Wiley of Sexual Assault

British-born, Ghana-based artist Joseph Awuah-Darko accused star artist Kehinde Wiley of sexual assault in an Instagram post published Sunday and said that he is seeking “legal action.” On his own Instagram, Wiley denied the allegations.

In the post, Awuah-Darko claimed that, on June 9, 2021, Wiley sexually assaulted him twice during a dinner held in his honor by Ghana’s Creative Art Council at the Noldor Artist Residency.

“On 9th June 2021 – I was sexually assaulted by @kehindewiley. It almost destroyed me,” Awuah-Darko wrote. “I hope my words and opennness about my painful experience empower others to come forward. I hope all that unravels creates a path towards not only accountability but recompense and collective healing for other victims.”

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A realistic painting of a shirtless Black man lying contorted on the ground. He's wearing green pants and has a thick silver chain around his neck. He is lying on a hill in a landscape that looks straight out of a Northern Renaissance painting.

In the post, Awuah-Darko claimed that Wiley “inappropriately groped” him first, grabbing his buttocks. He then alluded to a “much more severe and violent” assault later in the night, though he did not provide details for that alleged incident. Awuah-Darko instead noted that he had difficulty confronting the alleged assault due to Wiley’s status as a gay man and because of prevalent anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment in Ghana.

“I am actively seeking legal action and hope that speaking about my abuse will empower other victims to do the same,” Awuah-Darko told ARTnews in a direct message on Instagram Sunday.

Awuah-Darko had previously referenced an experience with sexual assault by “someone who outranks me” in a post on Instagram over a month ago, though he did not name Wiley at the time and the post has since been deleted.

The Noldor Artist Residency’s Instagram page includes a post from June 9, 2021 noting the dinner referenced in Awuah-Darko’s post.

The residency program, the first of its kind in Ghana, was founded by Awuah-Darko in November 2020 to provide emerging African artists with a dedicated studio space and a four-week retreat in Accra. The residency has since evolved into a museum, the Institute Museum of Ghana.

Not long after Awuah-Darko’s post went live, Wiley responded with a post of his own. “Someone I had a brief, consensual relationship with almost three years ago is now making a false accusation about our time together,” Wiley wrote. “These claims are not true and are an affront to all victims of sexual abuse.” Wiley did not acknowledge Awuah-Darko by name, saying only that the individual had “decided to target me.”

Awuah-Darko is an artist, musician, and curator, as well as a collector of contemporary African and diaspora art, much of which he has donated to the Institute Museum to jumpstart its collection. He has shown work with Gallery 1957 and curated a non-selling exhibition last year in partnership with Sotheby’s and the Olym Collection in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The Awuah-Darkos are one of the wealthiest families in Ghana, according to GhanaWeb, with a reputed net worth of $650 million.

Wiley, who was born in Los Angeles and is now based in New York, is well-known for his portraits of Black men and women done in the style of Old Masters paintings. He famously painted the official portrait of Barack Obama, and has received many institutional surveys.

Representatives for Wiley via his galleries, Sean Kelly and Roberts Projects, as well as via Black Rock Senegal, the organization that he founded, did not respond to a request for comment.

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