Exhibition of Paul Gauguin – voyage to the exotic

From 09 October 2012 to 13 January 2013 – at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

 

A ‘must see’ exhibition!

 

I recently went to this exhibition in Madrid and found it exceptionally worthwhile and enlightening.  If anyone gets a chance to go, I recommend it. The post-impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin gave creative light to the 19th century with his experimental use of color and fusion style. His work has been an inspiration for many including Pablo Picasso. Gauguin’s paintings illustrate the exoticism enthused by his time spent in Tahiti and the exploration of primitivism in all its forms paving the way to the Synthetist style.

 

On show are a broad series of works by late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists emphasizing how the voyage to supposedly more authentic settings led to a transformation in creative language, and the extent to which this affected the development of modernism. As you move around the museum, you observe highlights of how Gauguin’s painting were strongly influenced by the natural environment of Polynesia. But it also shows how an interest in the exotic had been a well-established tradition among other French painters since the mid-nineteenth century, as can be seen in Eugène Delacroix’s Women of Algiers in their Apartment.  Throughout the collection lies a devotion to Gauguin’s influence on the German Expressionists and French Fauvists in the early decades of the twentieth century. The exhibition concludes with Matisse’s visit to French Polynesia in 1930, the year in which director F.W. Murnau filmed Tabu, bringing to a close a forty-year cycle in which artists crossed the ocean from Europe to remote areas of the Pacific and returned from the Pacific to Europe.

 

I particularly admire the technique, the assortment of colors and the adaptation of primitive forms Gauguin used throughout his works. As an artist I find it imperative to have an awareness of other artists and the techniques they use.  The evolution of art should be seen as a guiding thread for everyone. Every artist, famous or not, has contributed in one way or another to this evolution of styles which will echo on.

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