Kehinde Wiley Celebrates the Transgender Women of Tahiti

Tahiti Confronts the Legacy of Paul Gauguin

Kehinde Wiley is best known for his Obama art portrait now has a series of his work on display in Paris.

Tahiti features images from the lives and times of the Tahiti’s Māhū community, A Polynesian term for people who identify as a gender other than male or female.

Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Moerai Matuanui (2019). Courtesy Templon, Paris & Brussels, © 2019 Kehinde Wiley.

This feature also pays tribute to Paul Gauguin who was the first person to visit the Tahiti community in 1890. Kehinde’s work is a question to societal norms and ethics as it looks deep to celebrate the Tahiti trans community as it challenges the social construct on gender.

A further look into his new series depicts and re-examines the French colonial legacy. ‘Tahiti’ will be Kehinde Wiley’s first exhibition in Paris since 2016, to be exhibited at the ‘Petite Palais’ The exhibition will also include a video installation depicting his time spent in Tahiti, in addition to the paintings. The show will remain on display until July 20.

Wiley has in the past had solo exhibitions in cities such as St. Louis, New York and Brussels. His 2018 portrait of former President Barack Obama remained one of his most remarkable and marked the first time an African-American artist painted an official U.S. Presidential portrait, and was revealed alongside Amy Sherald‘s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama.


Kehinde Wiley was born in Born in 1977 in Los Angeles. He currently lives and works between New York, Beijing, and Dakar. 

Kehinde Wiley graduated from Yale University in 2001 and completed a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2002. In 2018 he became the first African-American artist to paint an official U.S. Presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Former U.S. President Barack Obama selected the artist for this honor. 

Kehinde Wiley has held solo exhibitions at institutions across the United States and Europe including: Brooklyn Museum, New York; Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels;Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Petit Palais, Paris; Saint Louis Museum of Art, Missouri; and Seattle Art Museum, Washington. His works are included in the collections of numerous public institutions.

In June 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, Kehinde Wiley will inaugurate a new multi-disciplinary artist-in-residency program, Black Rock Senegal.

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