"Show of year" is UK's first on Gauguin in 50 years

Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:27pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - French painter Paul Gauguin gets his first major exhibition in Britain for over 50 years this week, and early reviews suggest it was worth the wait.

Two newspapers have given the show five stars, including the Times' Rachel Campbell-Johnston who described "Gauguin: Maker of Myth" at London's Tate Modern gallery "the show of the year."

Organizers say they have come up with a "fresh and compelling" look at the master of modern art, concentrating on his approach to storytelling and how myths and fables were central to his work.

"Gauguin is an artist who created his own persona and established his own myth as to what kind of a man he was," Tate director Nicholas Serota said in an introduction to the show.

"That is highly relevant when you come to think about an artist like Damien Hirst, or even Gilbert and George ... it is something that seems very current."

The opening room of the exhibition examines how Gauguin built up his public persona through self-portraits, which range from the artist as bohemian painter to corsair to what looks like a hospital patient or invalid contemplating death.

Later in the show is "Christ in the Garden of Olives," in which the artist appears as a red-haired Christ as he is betrayed shortly before his crucifixion.

Gauguin clearly drew parallels between Christ's suffering and his own at a time when he felt neglected by the Paris art world, betrayed by his followers and short of money.   Continued...