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Arearea by Paul Gauguin - A Dreamy and Idyllic Scenery



Paul Gauguin
Oil on canvas
75 x 94 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Gauguin first visited Tahiti in April 1891, hoping to discover traces of a primitive way of life and incorporate these elements into his compositions. He not only saw with his own eyes the actual people and landscapes around him but also imagined numerous exotic scenes through the ancient legends and religious myths of the region. Divided by the contour line above the red planet in the background, the image below is what the artist observed in real life, while the image above is what he imagined.

Two Tahitian women sit cross-legged on the grass, one playing music and the other listening, and they pass their leisure time in this way. The large tree on the right side runs through the whole picture, linking the real with the imaginary. In the foreground, an orange dog is searching around for something, and its unhurried look also fits the theme. Instead of the sky in the background, the basic composition of the painting is composed of green, yellow and red planes, which also set the overall color tone.

In the imaginary scene above, three Tahitian women are making a pilgrimage to an ancient idol, signifying that the land, under the blessing of the gods, will always be filled with lush trees and harmonious and peaceful life. Gauguin enlarged the small Maori statue in his imagination to show the majesty and power of the gods.

From the Tahitian women in the artist's paintings, it can be seen that they are not as barbaric and backward as the civilized society depicts, but on the contrary, their primitive beauty of living in harmony with nature is not possessed by modern people.

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