Grappling with Gauguin

International Approaches to Exhibiting the Artist’s Work in the 21st Century

Webinar Series

As the WPI prepares the next installment of Paul Gauguin’s catalogue raisonné, we are excited to present our next webinar series, Grappling with Gauguin. Bringing together curators and scholars from institutions in New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Denmark, this international series will address how to make space for diverse perspectives and critical discourse related to this important artist.  Speakers will include:

Laura Cosendey and Fernando Oliva, Museu de Arte de São Paulo
Anna Kærsgaard Gregersen, The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen 
Patricia O\’Brien, Australian National University College of Asia & the Pacific
Angela TiaTia, New Zealand-Australian artist
Dr. Caroline Vercoe, The University of Auckland 

Paul Gauguin, Autoportrait à la palette (1898). Courtesy of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.


Laura Cosendey and Fernando Oliva — Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 at 3:00 pm ET

In the 1890s, Gauguin spent two different periods in Tahiti, where he produced his most emblematic works. Setting himself apart from the typical Parisians, he would claim the identity of a “wild” artist, which also motivated his decision to live in the South Pacific islands. The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) holds the two most important works by the artist in Latin America: Poor Fisherman and Self-Portrait (Near Golgotha), both made in 1896.  Self-portrait (Near Golgotha) (1896) is a unique painting in Gauguin’s life and work, the only self-portrait that the artist kept with himself until his death. Before being brought to MASP, the painting was held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil’s capital at the time). On private display in a house of the Brazilian elite, historical photographs show the symbolic and strategic presence of a background of exuberant foliage. One of the press articles at the time had the sensationalist headline “In the tropical jungle,” highlighting how the garden with mango and jackfruit trees created the ideal setting for the narrative of exotic lands that followed the painting. One might see the self-portrait’s arrival in Brazil and its reception by the Brazilian media and art critics as part of a situation that, curiously, reiterated — in allegorical terms — the myth of the “primitive” that Gauguin nourished throughout his life and in his oeuvre.


 Laura Cosendey is an Assistant Curator at MASP and for the past year has been working alongside Fernando Oliva and Adriano Pedrosa on the exhibition Paul Gauguin: The Other and I. She has a master degree in History, Criticism and Theory of Art at the State University of Rio de Janeiro dedicated to curatorial studies and has been working on curatorial projects in different institutions in Brazil, including the 33rd São Paulo Biennial in 2018, in which she was as curatorial assistant. Currently, she is working alongside Adriano Pedrosa on a Francis Bacon exhibition to be held at MASP in 2024, as part of a year-long curatorial program dedicated to the Queer Histories in 2024. 

Fernando Oliva is a researcher, professor and curator with a PhD in Art Criticism and Art History from the University of São Paulo, with a thesis on the attitude of Brazilian art critics during the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985). He is part of the curatorial team at MASP, where he took part in the exhibitions and editing of the catalogs “Paul Gauguin: The Other and I”, “Degas: Dance, Politics and Society”, “Maria Auxiliadora: Daily Life, Painting and Resistance”; “Tarsila do Amaral: Cannibalizing Modernism”, “Rubem Valentim: Afro-Atlantic Constructions” and “Histories of Childhood”. He was part of the curatorial team for 3rd Bahia Biennial – “É Tudo Nordeste?”, and was Curatorial Director at São Paulo Cultural Center (CCSP) and curator at Paço das Artes and the Museum of Image and Sound, São Paulo.

Paul Gauguin, “Self portrait near Golgotha” (1896), oil on canvas, 75.5 × 63 cm, © Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo, Brazil

Enduring Gauguin: Reflections on Gauguin\’s Legacy in the Pacific —with Dr. Caroline Vercoe

Wednesday, November 2, 2023 at 3:00 pm ET (November 9, 7am NZST)

Discussing a wide range of responses by Pacific artists, this webinar will unpack Gauguin’s enduring legacy as what could be described as a ‘pain point,\’ platform or provocation. It considers why he seems to remain so central a figure within debates – often ambivalent and polemical – today, even though he died some 120 years ago.


Caroline Vercoe (Samoa/New Zealand) teaches Global Art Histories and contemporary Māori and Pacific courses in Art History at the University of Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the first Pacific woman to graduate with a PhD in Art History from the University of Auckland. She specialises in contemporary Pacific art and performance art, with a particular interest in issues of race, gender and representation, and has been teaching, curating and researching in these areas for over twenty-five years. She has published widely on Pacific artists\’ responses to Paul Gauguin\’s art, life and legacy, with a particular focus on the last decade of his life in Tahiti and the Marquesas.

 Tyla Vaeau. When Will You Marry._ from Dee and Dallas Do Gauguin. 2009.

Beyond Gauguin: Tracing the Colonial Stereotype of the Exotic Pacific Island Woman — with Anna Kærsgaard Gregersen, Angela Tiatia, and Patricia O\’Brien

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at 3:00 pm ET (November 9, 7am NZST)

This webinar delves beyond Gauguin himself, shedding light on the colonial context during his time in Tahiti and the enduring legacy of Western colonization in the South Pacific.

In 2020, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen presented the exhibition \”Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry?\” This exhibit not only mapped the myth surrounding the artist but also unveiled the transhistorical colonial myth of Tahiti, both within and beyond Gauguin\’s creations.

Join us in this webinar featuring New Zealand-Australian artist Angela Tiatia and Australian-American historian and Pacific expert Patricia O’Brien. The conversation will be moderated by Anna Kærsgaard Gregersen, curator of French Art from the 19th and 20th century at the Glyptotek.

Using the exhibition \”Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry?\” as a starting point, this conversation brings together the research and shared interests of Tiatia and O’Brien, which include gender, sexuality, race, and femininity. Specifically, the webinar will delve into the colonial stereotype of the exoticized Pacific island woman that extends far beyond Gauguin\’s works.


Patricia O’Brien is a wide-ranging historian and analyst of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. She is the author of Tautai: Sāmoa, World History and the Life and Ta’isi O. F. Nelson (2017), The Pacific Muse: Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific (2006). She has held the Jay I. Kislak Fellow in American Studies at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress (2011), the J. D. Stout Fellow in New Zealand Studies at Victoria University Wellington (2012) and was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the Australia National University (2012-2019) where she remains attached to the Department of Pacific Affairs. In 2020, she returned to Georgetown University, where she worked from 2000-2013, to the university’s Asian Studies and History departments. 


Angela Tiatia explores contemporary culture through performance, moving image, painting, sculpture and photography, drawing out the relationships between representation, gender, neo-colonialism and the commodification of body and place. Often through the lenses of history, popular and material culture, the artist moves deftly in her compositions of still and moving image from pointed detail to satellite view addressing themes within power structures and how these impact the individual and their communities.


Anna Kærsgaard Gregersen holds an MA in Art History from the University of Copenhagen and is a curator of French Art of the 19th and 20th century at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Her curatorial practice focuses on transhistorical and transnational dialogues across contemporary, modern, and ancient art, exploring and challenging the conventions of contemporary exhibition practices. Recent exhibitions include: Abbas Akhavan – curtain call (2023), Suzanne Valadon – model, painter, rebel (2022); Michael Armitage – Account of An Illiterate Man (2021) and Paul Gauguin – Why Are You Angry? (2020).

Still from Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis, Angela Tiatia, 2010.
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