Celebrated from the 1930’s in his village of Gagan, located in northern Solomon Islands, Somuk became famous in France after WW2 thanks to Fr Patrick O’Reilly’s publications. He drew the attention of the Parisian intellectual elite before being later forgotten, except in his native village where he acquired, after his death, the status of a demiurge.
The recently acquired photographic album compiled by Fr O’Reilly gives the museum the occasion to present the work of one of the major Pacific artists and to place these drawings in the cultural context in which they were created and given various interpretations.
The first part of the exhibition is dedicated to Bougainville cultures in which Somuk grew up. Series of drawings commissioned by former missionaries and anthropologists complete this section. The second part of the exhibition explores the singularity of Somuk’s works and its cultural legacy. A series of contemporary drawings inspired by his work close the exhibition and unravel one of the darkest moments of this region’s history: Bougainville Island Civil War.