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Art

Detailed Portraits of Tahiti’s Third Gender by Kehinde Wiley Challenge Gauguin’s Problematic Depictions

May 25, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Portrait of Geysha Kaua, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 151,5 x 122,5 cm 59 3/4 x 48 1/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

American artist Kehinde Wiley (previously) has unveiled a new series of paintings of Tahiti’s Māhū community, a group of Polynesians classified as a third gender between male and female. Presented at Galerie Templon in Paris, the colorful portrait series challenges a collection of 20th century works by Paul Gauguin, removing elements that Wiley considers problematic and exploitative side effects of colonialism.

Wiley takes issues with Gauguin’s depictions of the Māhū for being unrealistic fantasies that sexually objectify the community for the sake of his White audience back home. The paintings in his “Tahiti” series incorporate tribal patterns, bright colors, plants, and poses inspired by Gauguin’s work, but these distinctive elements were chosen by the models themselves as a form of “self-presentation.”

Portrait of Kea Loha Mahuta,II, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 162,5 x 213,5 cm 64 x 84 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

“I am interested in transformation and artifice,” the artist said in a statement. “My newest exhibition will engage with the history of France and its outward facing relationship to black and brown bodies, specifically relating to sexual proclivity. Gauguin features heavily in the imagination of France and her global interface–with that comes an entire history of complicated gazing. I interrogate, subsume, and participate in discourse about Māhū, about France, and about the invention of gender.”

The “Tahiti” exhibition opened on May 18 and will remain on view at the gallery (along with a new video work) through July 20, 2019. Follow Kehinde Wiley on Instagram to see what else he has been up to, including preparing for his upcoming Black Rock Senegal residency.

Portrait of Kea Loha Mahuta, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 92 x 78 cm 36 1/4 x 30 3/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Moerai Matuanui, 2019 Huile sur lin/ Oil on linen 183 x 153,2 cm 72 x 60 3/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Shelby Hunter, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 183 x 244 cm 72 x 96 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Tuatini Manate,III, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 180 x 241,5 cm 70 7/8 x 95 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Portrait of Tuatini Manate, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 114,5 x 92 cm 45 1/8 x 36 1/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

The Siesta, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 183 x 244 cm 72 x 96 1/8 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

 

 



Amazing Art

Rainbow Village: An Entire Community in Taiwan Hand-Painted by a Single Man

May 23, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

When Huang Yung-Fu learned that the village where he had lived for decades was slated for demolition, the Taiwan resident decided to showcase the continued vibrancy of his home. Huang was the last remaining resident of the community that had once housed 1,200 households, mostly Chinese Nationalist veterans like Huang, who had been defeated by Mao Zedong’s Communist regime. By the mid-2000’s, real estate developers had bought out many residents to be able to raze the area, with Huang as the last holdout. Left on his own, the elderly veteran, who also has a strong creative streak, started painting every available surface of his surroundings. Walls, rooflines, and pathways became canvases for multi-colored Chinese characters and figurative motifs.

Since beginning the open-ended project about ten years ago, Huang’s community has become known as Rainbow Village and he, the Rainbow Grandpa. In 2010 a local university student came across Huang’s vibrant paintings and helped raise awareness for the Rainbow Village. Over a million tourists visit each year and the Taiwanese government has since pledged to keep the village intact. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art

Banksy Sets Up Amongst Venice Street Vendors to Share a New Multi-Panel Painting

May 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Over the past month, the art world’s attention has been focused on the Venice Biennale, one of the most notable international shows on the planet. Many artists who are not in the invitation-only exhibition come to Venice to share their work in unaffiliated gallery shows and take advantage of the Biennale-boosted foot traffic. One such artist chose a more unorthodox setup for his Venice sideshow. Banksy (previously) joined the hordes of street vendors selling paintings to pedestrian tourists with a salon-style setup that merged several paintings together. Titled “Venice in Oil,” the multi-panel work depicts a gas-guzzling cruise ship towering over the ancient city as gondoliers in traditional dress row by.

Last week, many media outlets speculated that a stenciled artwork on a canal wall, depicting a migrant child holding up an S.O.S. flare was created by Banksy. But the British artist verifies his own work by sharing it on Instagram and his website, where the piece has yet to appear. The video below offers an on-the-ground view of the artist’s guerrilla street stall.

Update: The morning of May 24, 2019, Banksy claimed the rumored migrant child stencil in addition to his streetside setup.

 

 



Art

Head-Turning Historical Portraits by Ewa Juszkiewicz

May 13, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Ewa Juszkiewicz subverts the traditional notion of female portrait sitters as passive, simple subjects in her subtly unusual oil paintings. The artist constructs each painted portrait using familiar tropes from European art history, sometimes even citing specific paintings as inspiration. Female subjects with smooth, pale skin and luxurious apparel are placed in front of abstract or generically bucolic settings, sometimes with a “gender-appropriate” item in hand, like a paint brush, small book, or feather.

But in place of the beautiful face a viewer would expect in the center of these pleasant trappings, Juszkiewicz has turned the subject’s head 180 degrees to show an elaborate hairstyle, or filled the face with unruly plants or ribbons. A statement on the artist’s website explains, “Through the deconstruction of historical portraits, she undermines their constant, indisputable character and tries to influence the way we perceive them. Juszkiewicz experiments with the form of the female figure and face, balancing on the border between what is human and inhuman.”

The artist lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. She is represented by Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin, where she will have a solo show on view in November and December, 2019. Juszkiewicz shares updates from her work and travels on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Crumbling Buildings and Graffiti-Covered Walls Are Meticulously Documented in Oil Paintings by Jessica Hess

May 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Oakland-based painter Jessica Hess documents landscapes and built environments in moments of transition. Combining open skies and lush plant life with crumbling walls and frayed rebar, Hess finds equivalency in growth and decay. The artist, who works in oil paint, shoots photos while exploring abandoned locales, and uses these real life references to build her carefully framed worlds on canvas.

Hess graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and has been exhibiting nationally for over 15 years. Her solo show, The Chaos Aesthetic, is currently on view at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco, and runs through May 25, 2019. You can keep up with Hess’s impressive exhibition schedule, which includes four additional shows this year on her website, and see more of her work on Instagram.

 

 



Art

Dreamlike Narratives of Solitary Figures Lost in Thought

April 15, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Los Angeles-based artist Andrew Hem paints stylized scenes of solitary figures caught in moments of motion, introspection, and reverence. While integrated into their surroundings through carefully modulated color palettes, the figures’ floating poses and distant expressions suggest a dreamlike state. In an artist statement, Hem cites an early interest in graffiti as informing his current narrative style, which he creates with a combination of gouache, oil, and acrylic paint.

Hem was born during his parents’ flight from Cambodian genocide and was raised in southern California where he graduated from ArtCenter College of Design with an illustration degree. The artist has exhibited and lectured widely, and his upcoming show is at Galerie Open Space in Paris, France from June 23 to July 20, 2019. You can see more of Hem’s paintings, illustrations, and murals on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 



Art

Social Commentary with Surreal Twists in New Paintings by Paco Pomet

April 3, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“A Journey” (2019), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 cm

Paco Pomet (previously) combines chilling social commentary with humorous juxtapositions of past, present, and future in his satirical paintings. All-new works from 2018 and 2019 include meditations on melting glaciers, differences of opinion in frontier settings, and the symbolism of setting suns. The Spanish artist often combines greyscale and full color within a single painting to draw the viewer’s attention to specific details, like a car driving toward a bubblegum pink slime-slide, and two settlers in neighboring buildings enveloped by different-hued auras.

Pomet’s latest solo show, “No Places”, opens April 4 at Galleri Benoni in Copenhagen, Denmark, and runs through May 10, 2019. You can see more from Pomet on Instagram, and if you enjoy his work, also check out Toni Hamel.

“The End” (2018), oil on canvas, 160 x 200 cm

“Siesta” (2018), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 cm

“The Last Evening” (2018), oil on canvas, 160 x 200 cm

“Ambush” (2018), oil on canvas, 60 x 70 cm

“Same Planet, Different Worlds” (2018), oil on canvas, 65 x 92 cm

“Levante Poniente” (2018), oil on canvas, 130 x 170 cm

“Claim” (2019), oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80 cm

“El Apasionado” (2019), oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm