How exoticism made Paul Gauguin a student of nature

Mata Mua by Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin's life has always been along with the exotic and unconventional world. Born in 1848 in Paris, the French painter, considered one of the exponents of post-impressionism, influenced great names such as Picasso and Matisse.

Gauguin's interest in the exotic has a lot to do with his family relationship.
Paul was born in a family with multi-generational traditions, as his father was a Republican journalist, and his grandmother was a famous socialist.

The Gauguin family is well known; a young man bored with Parisian life is looking for an impulse that will make his heart beat faster. The thought falls on exotic countries, so wild and unknown to the bourgeoisie, primal in their structure and hierarchy, yet disordered by the government. The dream is intense - the desire to travel grows with the teenager.


The Call by Paul Gauguin

The Call by Paul Gauguin


At 17, Gauguin becomes a ship's boy, learning about new lands like Denmark and Sweden. The parents do not share the young man's enthusiasm, persuade him to take a more solid career path, and, three years later, he will become an agent with a stockbroker. This work and solid earnings bring Paul a kind of stability, but they trap him in the trap of down-to-earth pragmatism. In 1873, the artist married a young Danish woman, Sophie Gad, and he was still working as a stock exchange clerk and soon became a father. He was wealthy, and he was interested in painting for fun.

He made his first miniature landscapes to kill boredom, unaware of how a famous artist he would soon become. Despite the happy marriage, something about Gauguin keeps growing.


Landscape At Le Pouldu by Paul Gauguin


 1876 ​​brought the first more serious paintings, painted in the privacy of the home. Unlike Daumier or Cézanne, the artist never took a single drawing lesson. All he learned about painting was acting on his own. This stubbornness and hunger for experience resulted in accepting one of the early canvases at the Paris Salon. Two years later, Gauguin befriends Camille Pissarro, meets Cézanne and Guillaumin.

In 1880 he took part in an exhibition of the Impressionists and presented several landscapes with a visible influence of Pissarro; the same process continued for the next two years.
In 1883, he quit his stockbroker job and devoted his entire time to painting. Gauguin's lack of a steady source of income, marital quarrels and crying children frustrate Gauguin so much that he decides to leave for Normandy. There he dissociates himself from problems, builds a painting fort around himself, and works without ceasing. After a few years of poverty, he decides to go to Brittany, to the main cultural centre in Pont-Aven.


A Farm In Brittany by Paul Gauguin


Post-impressionist tendencies and a new trend later called cloisonne were slowly emerging. At the same time, the artist meets Vincent van Gogh.

1887 becomes a turning point for Paul, and some of his dreams are slowly coming true. At the age of thirty-nine, he goes to Martinique for the first time, watches the construction of the Panama Canal, absorbs unique landscapes and admires the power of nature. Then, on his canvases, such a characteristic and bold depiction of large colour patches appear.

The same year, Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh decided to live together in Arles. This turbulent period ends tragically. The mad van Gogh cuts off his ear, and shortly after the incident, he goes to a psychiatric facility.
Returning to Brittany in 1888 brought some peace to Gauguin's life, the Pont-Aven School gained respect, and Gauguin painted one of his most famous paintings - Self-Portrait with Yellow Christ. Paul's art is becoming more and more coherent, full of vivid colours, reminiscent of prehistoric cave drawings, without compulsory light and shade and perspective, free from urban restrictions, subject only to the laws of nature.


Mata Mua by Paul Gauguin


In 1891, he visited Tahiti for the first time, a wizarding country full of colour and charm. He paints with ardent enthusiasm during this time, nourishing himself with every bit of the island. Financial problems make themselves felt very quickly and force Gauguin to leave the country.
In Paris, exotic paintings arouse keen interest, but most opinions are mocking and unflattering.

After five years, Gauguin returns to Tahiti. In his painting, the characteristic shade of yellow becomes more intense, and the contours become more black and firm.


Two Tahitian Women by Paul Gauguin


In 1896, he met Pahura, a fourteen-year-old Tahitian who would soon become the artist's muse and the mother of his child. Paul, a forty-eight-year-old man at the time, saw nothing wrong with having a teenager as a wife. It was she who posed for the famous Nevermore painting, full of melancholy and tension.

This escape from European standards of beauty and norms, bourgeois glitz and French style triggered the wildest instincts in Gauguin. Each new canvas contained the pure truth flowing from the island's heart, the most sincere emotions and a lot of happiness.


Mahana No Atua by Paul Gauguin


Paul abandoned the thought of his former marriage, being a stockbroker, and financial trouble. He began to sink into this blissful carelessness, turned his life upside down, and fulfilled his youthful dream. Gauguin's promiscuous and controversial behaviour did not please the colonial authorities, who considered Paul a representative of the figure of a white bourgeois who, after all, was at the top of the pyramid in the island's hierarchy. Silenced by this situation, the artist moves to the island of Hiva-Oa, where he spent the last years of his life.


 Haere Pape by Paul Gauguin


Heart disease, many years of struggle with syphilis and old age cannot prevent him from painting. The lack of academic restrictions encouraged the creators to build their styles, full of courage and honesty. Unstained by a foreign idea but carved with their own experience. Gauguin, like Cézanne, has become a champion for future generations, a true icon followed by hundreds of young artists.
He tasted life in barbaric luxuries, where he felt like a fish in water. The island gave him inexhaustible doses of energy, which resulted in the most famous paintings of the late nineteenth century. The Tahitian nation was his greatest inspiration, the image of which he fixed forever.



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