The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Paul Gauguin and stunning art

Paul Gauguin and stunning art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Paul Gauguin left sublime art behind but it appears that his greatness and individualism isn’t being fully recognized. Somehow, the chaos and poverty of his own lifetime appears to be a shadow which still hangs over this man of art. Therefore, a more genuine assessment of Gauguin is needed because he was truly gifted.

Not only was Gauguin blessed with a rare gift in the field of art but he also had high intellect and maybe this was his weak spot. Therefore, while his life appeared normal he also felt crushed by society and the mundane reality of his world. However, his searching spirit inside was made all the more intense because of family pressure and the need to express the real Gauguin.

If Gauguin had been lucky enough to have had a break then his lasting legacy would have been so different and today he would be fondly remembered for his art by all and sundry. However, just like the lifetime of Gauguin he still remains controversial for some art lovers and the deconstruction of one aspect is infringing on the real genius of this man of art and words.

Prior to entering the art world Gauguin had showed little in the line of individualism and creativity and his world seemed normal. This applies to working and providing for his family. However, a spark remained in Gauguin and all the shackles of his life could no longer contain his dream.

Gauguin stated “without art there is no salvation” but sadly while salvation came internally by the art he created, the same does not apply to the salvation of art. After all, every time it appeared that he would finally make a big breakthrough then the further away he was.

In a past article I commented that “…the more fellow artists appreciated his talents and the closer he got to the “promise land,” the greater the rejection when poverty was all that remained. Also, Gauguin’s favorite daughter Aline died of pneumonia and Clovis, his son, died from a blood infection.  Therefore, his world was full of darkness and where was the justice that failed to reward such a talented individual?”


“Instead of “without art there is no salvation” it now felt that with or without art there is no salvation.  The death of Aline, a daughter he cherished and who provided a ray of sunshine, must have hit home at all the futility of this life.”

Gauguin’s poverty was also all too real and the art world did not reward this exquisite artist who blessed the world with amazing art. Instead, it crushed his soul and the death of Aline, poverty, and other areas of his life meant that economic freedom could not be found.

However, what is galling is the vindictiveness of many art critics in the modern world and how Gauguin is marginalized. Adrian Searle (The Guardian) in his article called Paul Gauguin: guilty as charged comments that “As Belinda Thomson makes clear in her excellent Tate catalogue essay, in looking at his work, what we have to overcome, first of all, is the embarrassment of Gauguin’s life and personality. Self-promotion and self-invention are inextricable from the art itself. Thomson shows us an artist, both outsider and careerist, who is a little bit dodgy in a way that anyone acquainted with today’s art world would recognize.”

I find this comment and others too strong because many talented individuals and individuals in general, will have closets but Gauguin never forgot about his children and he had many fine qualities. Added to his psyche is the loss of two children, endless poverty and the sheer predictability that nothing is going to pan out like planned.

Gauguin commented “I am inclined to a primitive state” and that Tahiti was a place “where material life can be lived without money.” In other words he was abandoning the desire of wealth and religious images in his art may have been based on Tahiti being heaven on this earth

In the past I commented that “If Gauguin succumbed to “the apple” then he did so because of the reality of an unforgiving world which was based on injustice and trapping so many into the wretchedness of poverty and debt during his lifetime.”

“However, if he succumbed to “the apple” based on love after fleeing so much hardship and escaping convention, then who are we to judge given the reality of the world that Gauguin belonged – if Gauguin had impure intentions then he would have left his family well behind before this and he would have desired the flesh much earlier.”

Tahiti was but one piece of the jigsaw and by this time the ravages of life and the endless cycle of poverty had dismantled all hope of heaven on earth in Europe. Therefore, the forbidden fruit in the garden now became a self-made image and maybe now Gauguin was even turning against redemption.

Whatever the private life of Gauguin it can never take away from the genius of this amazing artist. The profile of Gauguin should be much higher because Gauguin had a very rare talent.   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO

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