Somuk retrospective at Quai Branly
January 29 @ 12:00 am - March 8 @ 12:00 am
A painter considered “the most learned man in the community” by Gagan inhabitants, his birthplace set north to Bougainville, the first to have been raised the “Occidental” way.
True model for Dubuffet’s entourage, Somuk is also “one of the only Melanesian artists from the early 20th century of whom we keep a significant number of works”. All in all, about 70 of them are displayed in the museum, including photographs and objects presented to visitors and giving a context for the artist’s drawings, as well as the interpretations that have been made. The exhibition also presents the many orders placed by missionaries and anthropologists for drawings on which Somuk worked creating “complex scenes”.
An exhibition that is the outcome of fifteen years of research that paints a “double portrait of a Melanesian political leader, a peculiar artist who became the symbol of the recognition of contemporary art in the Pacific”. The display ends with a series of contemporary drawings inspired by his works and focusing on the representation of the Bougainville civil war, asking about “the artist’s actual heritage”.
Note that this exhibition is associated with the International Year of Indigenous Languages organized by Unesco.
Somuk, a true character “whose creations represent a meaningful corpus” that hasn’t been paralleled so far in terms of Melanesian art productions prior to the 70’s.