Polynesian anomaly of Gauguin - queer.de

Polynesian anomaly of Gauguin – queer.de

Few have had as much influence on nineteenth century art as Paul Gauguin. As a pioneer of Expressionism, he plays a major role in art history. Above all, those colorful images in which he glorifies the South Seas as a place of longing have become part of the world’s cultural heritage.

Gauguin presented himself as a mediator between cultures, and considered himself a soul mate to the natives and a critic of colonialism. But reality was full of shades of gray and contrasts.

A life at the expense of the locals

In fact, Gauguin himself became part of the colonial movement, which he nonetheless strongly attacked. Settling in Tahiti, the paradise utopia of the South Seas lived at the expense of the locals and appropriated their culture, not without alienating it and using it for manipulative purposes. Some of its forms have long been part of global pop culture. To this day, they make up the image of the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe oceanic islands and are depicted on many commercial products from Polynesia.

Gauguin’s paternalistic behavior is particularly problematic. Maintain relationships with indigenous girls, who got pregnant when they were just approaching sexual maturity. He was over forty years old. For a long time he was allowed to pass this on as the artist’s freedom.

But now it comes as it should at some point: the old master is chosen according to all the rules of art.

Gauguin reinterpreted it from the perspective of the original strange

Yuki Kihara (Photo: Exclusive)

Samoan trans artist Yuki Kihara, who reinterpreted Gauguin in terms of aboriginal weirdness, attracted the most attention: critically and confidently, free from resentment, and in full respect for Gauguin’s artistic accomplishments – and above all with plenty of humour.

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Born in 1975, Kihara has already made an international name for herself in the art world with her engagement to Gauguin and can be seen twice currently. in stream Old Berlin National Gallery Exhibition (until July 10, 2022) Gauguin’s selected works will be placed alongside her video work and works by other contemporary artists. And at the Venice Biennale (until November 27, 2022), Kihara will be amazing New Zealand official contribution Presented as the only artist.

Cultural reallocation in TV form

Kihara’s video work “First Impressions” is a pilot arrangement as a TV show that has already been broadcast on TV in Samoa – and has achieved high ratings. In the show, each of five members of the queer community is shown a picture of Gauguin over the course of five episodes. Mediator Anastasia Vancouver initially asks Stanley to describe first impressions and associations, such as Gauguin’s 1894 work “Area no varua ino” (Pleasures of an Evil Spirit).

Gauguin’s 1894 work “Area no varua ino”.

Your Polynesian guests, all completely inexperienced when it comes to art, babble away happily and don’t utter their words:

“The two boys in the background are gay and married to two women who are having an affair.”

“Actually, I think the boys are straight. They do it anyway, just for fun.”

Ideas roll. Entertainment turns into a cultural reappropriation that is not only very interesting, but also sometimes mysterious. Thus Gauguin is exposed, but not branded in his entire work.

Gauguin himself was considered eccentric

From this perspective, it is now possible to identify characters in Gauguin for the first time that perhaps embody a peculiar conception of life from the pre-colonial period: Mahi or Vavavin were socially assimilated people “who grew up like a woman, but were born as a man”—in rare cases, and vice versa as well. They were attributed to them spiritual gifts of many races. Only Christian missionaries wanted to put an end to this and sow distrust in the population, which continues to cause problems for the queer community today. Gauguin himself, with his flashy clothes and long hair, was mistaken for Mahi.

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In any case, Kihara leaves nothing to chance about Gauguin’s artistic significance, even if she feels “divided” in the debate over whether the artist should be featured and cannot give a “clear answer”. in one Interview with “Monopol” magazine She emphasized that she did not find “there is no shame in looking at his works and even appreciating them. The colors and shapes in his paintings also have strength. And if we abolish Gauguin, we forget his central role in colonialism.” At least for Kihara, it was an inspiration to delve deeper into the culture and history of their region.

In the juxtaposition of Gauguin’s works with contemporary art, a convincing solution is found in this case: nothing is erased from art history, only something is added. However, no one in this gallery can avoid asking the important questions.

This example could also set a precedent in other postcolonial debates.

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