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Gauguin: Maker of Myth @ Tate Modern

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フランス・ポスト印象派の巨匠、ポール・ゴーギャンの作品を世界中から集めた大規模な「Gauguin」展が、9月30日から来年1月16日まで、テート・モダンで開催されている。

株式仲買人の職を辞し、家族を妻の故郷のコペンハーゲンに残し、パリで、独学で始めた絵画に専念。その後西洋文明に失望しタヒチに移り住んだ。その時に、現地の女性を独特のタッチで色彩豊かに画いた、エキゾチックな画風の絵が有名だが、この展覧会ではその他、ゴーギャンがちょくちょく訪れた、アーティストのコロニーがあるブルターニュ地方・ポン=タヴェンの風景画や宗教画、自画像、木彫りなど、多くの作品が展示されている。

ゴーギャンは、タヒチでまだ年若いと思われる思春期の女の子の絵を多く描いたため、幼児性愛者と言われたり、植民地主義者、性差別主義者と呼ばれることもしばしば。またパリにいる時にうつされた梅毒の感染事実を知りながらタヒチの若い女性たちと性交渉を持ったことに対する批判もある。梅毒のことはヒドい話だが、その他の批判は、当時は幼児性愛は悪だとか、植民地時代には現地人の人権とか言う観念はなかっただろうから、彼が極悪人であったと決めつけるのは気の毒な部分もある。

鳴り物入りで始まった展覧会だけれど、単なるラフスケッチや小粒の作品も多く、少し期待外れ。木彫りなどは、彼独特の色使いが見られないし、むしろ平凡、現地の工芸品の方がまだ出来がいいんじゃないかと思う。またデイリー・テレグラフ紙のアート批評家が指摘しているように(記事)、このゴーギャン展では、年代別ではなくテーマ別に作品が展示されているため、彼の作品を良く知らない人たちは、彼のスタイルの変遷を追いづらいという難点がある。私も、ゴーギャンの人生での出来事との繋がりやその作品の背景が見えなくて、少し分かりづらかった。

A French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin’s large scale exhibition “Gauguin“, exhibiting his works from around the world, runs at the Tate Modern from September 30 until January 16, 2011.

Gauguin left his job as a stockbroker and his family in his wife’s native Copenhagen, and became a full-time painter in Paris, after he began painting in his free time.  He is famous for his colorful and exotic images of women in Tahiti, to where he escaped from European civilization, but the exhibition also shows a variety of works such as paintings of Brittany where he frequently visited the artist colony of Pont-Aven, religious paintings, self-portraits, and wood carvings.

Gauguin is sometimes called as a colonialist, a sexist, or even a pedophilia because he painted naked or half-naked young Tahitian girls as his favorite motif. He was also condemned that he had sexual relationship with Tahitian girls knowing that he got infected syphilis while he was in paris. It is terrible that he took a risk to infect these innocent girls, but other criticisms are a bit too harsh on him, as there was no concept that “pedophilia is bad” nor human right of a colonial among colonizers at that time he lived through.

The exhibition opens with a fanfare as a blockbuster of this year, but I was a bit disappointed because the exhibition includes many unimpressive works such as mere quick drawings and wood carvings which are rather boring without his signature colors and Polynesian would probably do better that kind of wood carvings than him. As the Daily Telegraph’s art critique mentions the risk of hanging Gauguin’s works thematically instead of chronologically, that makes it difficult for anyone who are not particularly familiar with his works to follow his stylistic development (article), the exhibition was a bit confusing for me to connect his life stage and artistic history to his actual works in front of me.

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