The south sea paradise, rich colors, and beautiful faces; the paintings of French artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) are famed for depicting an Orientalist worldview.
Now an exhibition in Berlin is taking a critical look at the artist's renowned works in light of contemporary debates surrounding colonialism, sexism and racism.
At the Alte Nationalgalerie exhibition, "Paul Gauguin - Why Are You Angry?", Gaugain's works are juxtaposed against those of contemporary artists who have adopted Gauguin's themes. The exhibition, a collaboration with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, can be seen until July 10 on Berlin's famous Museum Island.
In the view of Ralph Gleis, director of the Alte Nationalgalerie, Gauguin tried to realize his dream of a life beyond bourgeois ideas in a "constant search for the original" outside European society with "remarkable radicalism," a line of thought that would see Gauguin refer to himself as a "savage."
The exhibition is not a retrospective of Gauguin's work but aims to take a focused look at this white colonialist and his own contradictions, according to the German News Agency.
For Gleis, the current debates on how Europe needs to own up to the impact of its colonial heritage cannot be ignored.