A week after I first saw these paintings of some of my favorite grime MCs reimagined as something like British nobility, I still can't get the image of D Double as a high-ranking military officer out of my head. Ditto for Skepta astride a horse in his legendary all-white ensemble, and Stormzy standing regally in a pair of Adidas slides while Wiley, immortalized in a portrait, looks on behind him. The paintings are the work of artist Reuben Dangoor who, intentionally or not, winds up contorting ideas about race, class, and citizenship. The concept borrows, or at least references, Kehinde Wiley's now-infamous portraiture, in which he often presents black and Latino men in heroic poses alongside aesthetic markers historically reserved for the rich and the white.
Here's how Dangoor described the series to Complex U.K.: "I just started to combine a few of the stereotypical views of England and old school Britishness, with these guys—I think they’re flying the flag for the U.K. in a way that’s far more relevant." True.