After getting little to no sleep the last few nights it was a welcome change to sleep 10 hours night to Thursday. I mean, even if it resulted in me getting up at 13:00 I clearly needed it right? Sleeping that much always leaves me feeling well hung over, and since the "day" was more or less over I decided to skip uni and go in to London in stead to check out Tate.
One of the hidden blessings of having little prior knowledge of art history is that I can go to exhibitions like the one featuring Gauguin and be able to at least partially experience the paintings without thinking about what other people have said about him. Then I can go read up on him afterwards and go see the exhibition again. (I did buy the membership after all.)
I say partially, because it's difficult to ignore all of the informational wall scribblings. Honestly, I love them when I want them, but when I don't want them they are such a nuisance.
Consequently my first review of the exhibition isn't very academic in nature and it can be summed up in a rather crude statement: what a dumb bastard. I mean how far can you take ethnic and racial stereotyping and fetishising the "exotic" before somebody calls you on it? Obviously really fucking far as long as you lull it into a romantic ideal of the "simpler" life in the proverbial garden before the fall (read industrial revolution), which in it self is problematic even if people continue to buy into it as if it was on bankruptcy sale.
It pisses me off.
Personally I think the main reason for why he painted a lot of exotic semi-nudes was that he liked looking a boobs and that he knew they would sell on the European marked. Maybe reading more about him will make me see him in a better light, but the scarce information from the wall scribblings make me shudder a bit. I mean, here you have a man who acknowledges mens rights to use prostitutes as recreation, who complain that the island paradises he lives in have become too "western" and who ends up dying of syphilis, I might have to eat my words if I find some written proof that he didn't sleep with his models, but I assume he did, and so he probably condemned a fair share of them to die of syphilis as well.
Now I should probably say something about the art too, after all, I have seen some of the paintings before and I have admired them. And I still do for the record. There are some like "the morning" which really enthralls me, even though I'm not sure it's worth $39,241,000 , there is something about the light and how it changes over the painting that fascinates me. And there's something about the expression of the woman with the bare rear that makes me bond with her telepathically, I know exactly what she is thinking. "Didn't your parents tell you it's rude to peek while a woman does her morning toilette?"
Enough with the sarcasm.
I really admire the way he paints bodies, especially the skin. He manages to convey something delicate with relatively rough brushstrokes and evenness with patchy colors. He simplifies in a manner that doesn't take away, but rather adds to the atmosphere and emotions in his subjects. He aims to portray a simpler, more naive and more beautiful world, his idea of paradice, and he does this skillfully in the way he presents nature in his pictures, the use of bright colors and an exageration of childlike features in his models. If I was to atempt to say something about style, I'd say that he goes from being more of an impressionist to closing in on expressionism as he grows older.
I'm looking forewards to reading more about the guy and going back to see the exhibition again. Maybe I will have more meaningful things to say about it by then.
So far my favourite painting is "the ham", with it's semi abstract backdrop and exiting color contrasts it really caught my interest. Like many of his other works it's fairly simple without being uniteresting. Besides I've rarely seen meat in a natura morta before, at least not as the main focus. But again that probably say more about how few natura mortas I've happened across so far...