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Portraits of Tahiti’s Third Gender by Kehinde Wiley Challenge Gauguin’s Problematic Depictions


Portrait of Geysha Kaua, 2019 Huile sur lin / Oil on linen 151,5 x 122,5 cm 59 3/4 x 48 1/4 in. photo : Diane Arques / ADAGP, Paris, 2019

Inspired by a recent @galleriesatut IG post, we’re looking back to some of Kehinde Wiley’s work from 2019. This feature in Colossal by Andrew Lasane highlights Wiley’s series of portraits that document Tahiti’s Mahu community with regal vibrancy.

“My newest exhibition will engage with the history of France and its outward facing relationship to black and brown bodies, specifically relating to sexual proclivity. Gauguin features heavily in the imagination of France and her global interface–with that comes an entire history of complicated gazing. I interrogate, subsume, and participate in discourse about Māhū, about France, and about the invention of gender.”