Abstract Canvas Prints No 57 : Why are you angry?
Except that Gauguin wasn’t a native or a peasant. He was an artist on location, a tourist.
The ex-banker from Paris was producing prurient pictures for a European market and a bourgeoisie that had developed a liking for idealised images of cultures exotic and primordial.
He was white, western, middle-class, Middle aged man with a romanticised view of the South Sea islanders, and a highly developed appreciation for the voluptuous bodies of the young Tahitian women.
Why are you angry? (No Te Aha Oe Riri), Painted in 1896 on his second trip to Tahiti, is an archetypal go get a canvas from the period.
There are no men for a start, which was usual, as was the setting, which is presently pastoral.
A palm tree in the middle distance divides the picture vertically. Behind it is a large thatched heart, around which are dusty earth path winds, the near edge of which gives on to a patch of lush green grass.
Flowers, plants, pecking hens, roaming chicks, and some mountains in the far-off distance complete and alluring backdrop to the narrative action of the picture.
The painting features a cast of six native ladies. Three standing to the left of the tree, while the other three sit it’s right.
Of the three standing on the left, two are in the background preparing to enter the hut from the side.
The first in line is young and attractive, And has dropped the top of her dress to expose her breasts.
The lady following her is much older and stoops as she cajoles the young woman to go inside. Also in the background, sitting on a stall to the right of the tree is an old lady.
She is wearing a white headscarf and a lilac dress and appears to be guarding the dark, imposing main entrance to the hut.