Abstract Canvas Prints No 58 : Who are the hidden customers?
The suggestion that the heart is a brothel is made overt by the three young, new by women in the foreground of the picture. The one on the left of the tree stand side on, dressed in a blue, lightly decorated sarong, superciliously peering down her nose at the other two, we were sitting together on the grass, to the right of the tree.
The one furthest from the palm’s trunk, to the edge of the picture, has her back to the viewer.
She is dressed in a white singlet and a blue skirt, she appears to be whispering something to her friend, who sits facing the viewer.
She is topless and coy, her eyes fixed on the ground to avoid the penetrating stare of the woman in the blue sarong.
The body language between those two provides the title for the painting: an aggressive, accusative stance being counteracted with a sheepishly put enquiry.
The symbolism seems to be coming clear.
Those on the tree’s left are yet to enter the hut and are therefore untainted by events going on in its dark interior, they stand proud, with their honour intact.
Not so this seated old woman looking on from behind, she is the brothel’s madam, nor the two young women on the grass in the foreground.
But who are the hidden customers? Tahitian men? Possibly. Gauguin? Probably. The colonising forces from Europe? Certainly.