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Kehinde Wiley Celebrates Transgender Women from Tahiti
In memory of the work Paul Gauguin made in the region over a century ago.
Art Stuff 29 May 2019

The now-star artist who did Barack Obama’s official portrait, Kehinde Wiley’s latest show ‘Tahiti’ in Paris exhibits portraits of women, who are juxtaposed onto intricate motifs – an easily recognizable and not-so-surprising signature style of the artist. The women in the paintings, in colourful either contemporary or traditional outfits, with very feminine posture, gaze at the viewer, often imposingly. You may not think of them as transgender women unless you read the exhibition press release or until you watch the video-installation, which features the models in the paintings behind the scene, expressing their thoughts in their own voices.
Galerie_Templon Galerie_Templon
WILEY 19_vue expo templon_(c)bertrand Huet-Tutti 1
WILEY 19_vue expo templon_(c)bertrand Huet-Tutti 4 WILEY 19_vue expo templon_(c)bertrand Huet-Tutti 6
Focused on Tahiti’s Māhū community (the traditional Polynesian classification of people of a third gender, between male and female), Kehinde Wiley attempts to reference but also confront the famous works by Paul Gauguin, which also feature subjects from the transgender community, while often with historical undertones of colonialism and sexual objectification. Here we get a perspective on complicated gazing and the invention of gender – both in art history and our contemporary world.
Galerie_Templon
Galerie_Templon Galerie_Templon
 
Exhibition: ‘Tahiti – Kehinde Wiley’, until 20 July, Galerie Templon, 28 rue du Grenier Saint Lazare, 75003 Paris
 
Text by Ricko Leung
Images via Galerie Templon

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