Review Round Up: Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery

We round up the reviews for the National Gallery’s new Autumn exhibition.

Paul Gauguin
Vahine no te vi (Woman with a Mango), 1892
The Baltimore Museum of Art
The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland; 
The Baltimore Museum of Art / Photo: Mitro Hood.

The Guardian: *** “But just when it should soar, this exhibition puts on the brakes. Its treatment of Gauguin in Tahiti is a mess. His greatest and most controversial achievements are sidestepped in favour of all those flowers. Tahiti is presented as the last chapter of a long development. In reality, it was Gauguin’s redemption.”

The Telegraph: ***** “Here’s a geeky fact about the National Gallery: there are only two paintings in its collection by that alpha male of French Post-Impressionism, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). And just one appears in its stupendous, yet controversial new exhibition, Gauguin Portraits.”

The Times: **** “I can’t help suspecting that the neighbours might be a bit mad. The National Gallery in London has just nabbed one of the best-loved painters and staged the first show to focus on his portraiture. The National Portrait Gallery next door has rather missed a trick. That aside, this is a richly revelatory slant from which to look at the perennially popular work of Paul Gauguin.”

Evening Standard: **** “In this wonderful, revelatory show, we get to see the best of Gauguin: his complexity as an artist and his sublime colour and strangeness — actually, make that plain weirdness. It’s also clear what a foul human being he could be. And with that monstrous egotism he had the capacity to create the striking and unforgettable portraits we have here.”

Time Out:  **** “So what do we do with Paul Gauguin? We can’t separate the man from the art or the subject matter from the skill. But we can try to find the beauty in it while acknowledging its very deep problems. If nothing else, this exhibition does a brilliant job of making you do both.”

Culture Whisper: *** “Can you separate the man from the art? It’s a pressing question, especially at a time when Gaugin’s name recalls a litany of detestable figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. But the exhibition doesn’t ask you to see the artist in a new light, merely to consider both the light and the shadows.”

Gauguin Portraits is on display at the National Gallery until the 26th January 2020.

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