Paul Gauguin

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Self proclaimed ‘savage’ Paul Gauguin is perhaps one of the most misunderstood artistic geniuses of all time. It is bizarre that most of his work got applauded after his demise, which is a sorry state of affairs for lovers of art who still – to this day – remain divided over this superb French artist who also happened to be one of the pioneers of the Symbolist movement. So divided is public opinion of him, mostly due to the wild and frivolous life style he led, that it took well-known giant art houses like the Tate Modern 50 years to show their first Gauguin exhibition. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the sheer magnificence or rawness of Gauguin’s work.

Unlike other famous painters, art came late to Paul Gauguin. Born on June 7, 1848 in Paris, France Gauguin moved to Peru at an early age to follow his maternal Peruvian roots and due to France’s rising political mayhem. After a few years the family moved back to Paris where Gauguin attended university and then later unlisted in the French navy which was mandatory. This was followed by a stint as a stockbroker in Paris, at around this time Gauguin started collecting art pieces from Claude Monet, Camille Pissaro to name a few. It was only when Gauguin lost his stock broking job that he finally dabbled in painting which was also brought about by depression. Gauguin’s strength as an artist lay in the Impressionist painting style comprising of landscapes, still life and human faces in different degrees of skin show. These further transcended into more bold and mysterious paintings which evoked both mystery and uproar.

Disenchanted by life in Paris, Gauguin left France and his family (wife and five kids) for the south of Pacific where he explored the many faces of the ‘primitive art’ of the unseen. This was one of many instances which work against Gauguin as a person but only add more to his work as an artist. In many ways Gauguin left everything behind in Paris, his life, family, and money for the ultimate experience of being the artist who is wandering for the perfect mystic – in other words complete artistic freedom. There Gauguin studied everything meticulously and transpired it into art, the locals, shapes, sizes, faces and landscapes. It was almost as if he wanted to be consumed by the very nature around him. Many argue that Gauguin wasn’t exactly a painter as his work is mostly all skewed and crudely shaped but that’s what set Gauguin apart from the others. As his paintings got more prominent and featured more human faces the more wild his life style became.

Taking on one wife and mistress after another, for many it was Gauguin not paying much attention to the sanctity of having a normal life. Something he had tried before in his life and was no longer interested in. Researchers suggest that one of his most famous works, the Polynesian babe painting is in fact his mistress and love child whom he painted. Despite the varying opinions of Gauguin’s dramatic lifestyle there is an instant penchant for his work. Just recently his Tahitian girls’ painting was bought for a whopping £200 million, the largest amount ever paid for a single work of art. No doubt a ‘sinner’ as he liked to call himself, the artist was always there in Paul Gauguin.

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