Abstract Canvas Prints No 59 : Gauguin
For a while Gauguin was happy to trade off the innocence of Tahiti’s native people, he also considered himself to be the islander’s champion and advocate.
And that is why the question posed in the paintings title is partly rhetorical.
It is this scene, the one in which foreigners are ‘raping’ the island and its people, that makes Gauguin angry.
The picture is a lament for an unspoiled way of life that he witnessed being rapidly corrupted and destroyed by his own countrymen.
There is no doubt that his feelings were sincere, but as ever with this gifted, innovative and brilliant artist, they were also contradictory.
What he had, though, what all great artists have, was the ability to communicate ideas and feelings universal to us all in a unique way.
To do that usually requires time for an individual’s talent to develop before a signature style emerges that becomes recognisable.
Once that is in place, when the artist has found his or her voice, a conversation can take place with the viewer; assumptions can start to be made, a relationship can develop.
Gauguin achieved this benchmark in a remarkably short space of time, which is testament both his ability and his intelligence.