Abstract Canvas Prints No 56 : The Parisian Avant-Garde
Once in Tahiti, free from peer pressure and domestic troubles, he quickly found his artistic mojo.
He produced a vast number of paintings inspired by the light, the locals and the legend of the Polynesian islands, the majority of which featured voluptuous young native women who were naked, semi-naked or wrapped only in a piece of patterned cloth.
The pictures are erotic and exotic, colourful and simple: modern and primitive.
Gauguin wanted to exist in and express a prehistoric, primal way of life, unfettered by the trappings and superficiality of the modern world.
That he did so by using the most contemporary painting techniques is just another example of the contradictory nature of the artist, who discovered that the methods cultivated by the Parisian avant-garde actually aided him in his ambition to communicate the natives’ unsophisticated naivety.
Making use of the two dimensional block colour system, first explored by Manet and then taken forward by Degas gave Gauguin’s pictures a flat, childlike quality.
A callow characteristic that was amplified when he boosted, or completely falsified, natural colour; an expressive trick he and van Gogh had experimented with when working together in Arles.
The result was a series of stylised, decorative paintings that evoked a tranquil, tropical paradise, made by an artist who had gone native.