Gallerie d’Italia hosts Gauguin masterpiece

Visitors to Vicenza’s Gallerie d’Italia can enjoy a taste of Polynesia as the Post-Impressionist oil painting goes on temporary display.

An important painting by Paul Gauguin has gone on display at the Gallerie d’Italia in Vicenza. Tahitians in a Room, painted by the French Post-Impressionist in 1896, concludes a series of special exhibitions celebrating the gallery’s 20th anniversary.

Housed in the baroque Palazzo Leoni Montanari, the museum was the first of three opened by Intesa Sanpaolo to share its important art collection with the public.

The work, inscribed with the Maori title, Eiaha Ohipa, was one of several the artist produced during his second stay on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti. It shows a couple seated on the floor of an open-sided hut, a cat curled up at their side, and is notable for Gauguin’s distinctive and bold use of colour. An incongruous figure, observing the scene in the background, is presumed to be the painter himself.

He made several visits to Polynesia between 1891 and his death, on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands in 1903. He travelled there in search of a culture unaffected by the trappings of western civilisation which he disliked.

The resulting depictions of local people – their body proportions exaggerated –championed a simpler, more free way of life and heralded the Primitivist art movement.

On loan from the illustrious Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the masterpiece will be on display until March 8, 2020. Its exhibition is accompanied by a diverse programme of activities including free itineraries for schools, multi-sensory art tours, children’s workshops, film and floral design workshops – all designed to evoke the colours, smells and flavours of Polynesia.

Tahitians in a Room by Paul Gauguin is at the Gallerie d’Italia, Vicenza, until March 8, 2020