Monday, November 30, 2015

Gauguin. Tales from Paradise

Gauguin. Tales from Paradise
MUDEC - Museo delle Culture di Milano
28 October 2015 – 21 February 2016

Organized by 24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 Ore and curated by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, the exhibition “Gauguin. Tales from Paradise” features approximately 70 works from twelve international museums and private collections, together with artefacts and pictures documenting the places visited by the artist. Next spring the Glyptotek will show a version of the exhibition back in Copenhagen, based on the experiences of this Danish-Italian collaboration.

The Glyptotek collection of works by Paul Gauguin is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and this exhibition features no less than 35 of the Danish museum’s Gauguins – along with significant works by Cézanne, Pissarro and Van Gogh. It is the first time that such a large part of the Glyptotek Gauguin collection is displayed outside of the museum.

Among its highlights is

Vahine no te Tiare (Woman with a Flower), one of the first paintings which the artist sent back to France from Tahiti in 1891, as an ambassador of a new and radical art, “made in Polynesia”.

Besides the significant works from the Glyptotek “Gauguin. Tales from Paradise” includes outstanding masterpieces such as

Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ (Musèe d’Orsay, Paris),

Mahana no atua (Day of the God) (Art Institute of Chicago

and Volpini Suite (Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen).

The art works on display will allow visitors to recognize and analyse the sources of Paul Gauguin’s art, which range from the folk art of Brittany to Egyptian, Peruvian, Cambodian and Javanese art, to the life and culture of Polynesia. By examining some of the artist’s masterpieces in the light of these sources of inspiration, the exhibition aims to illustrate his peculiar and original approach to “primitivism”.

Through the display of a series of works and artefacts created by Paul Gauguin during his travels – real and imaginary – the exhibition aims to highlight the originality of his life-long quest for “the primitive”. Gauguin's interest in other cultures took the form of a constant search for original material that could be integrated and merged with his own creations. Ranging from paintings and wooden sculptures to ceramics and engravings, the works illustrate Gauguin's “primitivism” as an artistic vision, lifestyle and journey to escape from contemporary society, in the pursuit of a different world, a pristine one pregnant with ancient meanings and inhabited by ancestral powers and spirits.

The variety of artistic means of expression employed by Gauguin is itself proof of the creativeness and complexity of his vision. The works on display show how Gauguin's imaginative and unique approach may serve as a prism through which to rethink the conventional Western view of “primitivism” according to new and unexpected perspectives.

Paul Gauguin's fascination with “the primitive” represents a recurrent theme in his artistic production. His approach springs from a deep-seated desire to make a break with the conventional rules of the society of his day and the criteria of French Impressionism, in order to attain a higher degree of truth and genuineness in both life and art. Gauguin's personal view of the “primitive” as the primordial power governing the world, as the fundamental essence of human nature, led him to artistically combine a vast range of figurative sources distant in space and time.

Alongside his initial interest in European medieval art, Gauguin was soon drawn to the search for something more authentic than contemporary European culture. This urge led the artist first to Brittany, a land of age-old traditions and simple ways of life, and then to Martinique, an island with an exotic and pristine nature. Following his discovery of traditional artefacts from the French colonies at the 1889 Universal Exhibition, Paul Gauguin travelled further and further, reaching the islands of French Polynesia. Here he pursued his dream of leading a primitive, ancestral existence, in which art and life, symbol and vision, are combined into a single reality.

“Gauguin. Tales from Paradise” is curated by Line Clausen Pedersen and Flemming Friborg, respectively the curator of the Department of French Art and the Director of the Glyptotek.