Paintings of Modernist Pioneer, Paul Gauguin at the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom
Lambirth’s advice is to not to be influenced by the romantic notions we might have of Gauguin’s life as the “romantic bohemian who escaped to the South Seas”, but to keep his work and “compelling originality” at the forefront of our attention. For those people fortunate enough to be able to go, the exhibition promises a great deal.
He pushes on to see a superb painting of a ham, from 1889 - “the worn yet blazing orange background flaring against the duller red of the meat and its encircling creamy white fat”. Of further note in the same room, (number 2) of the Tate Modern, is “Still Life With Profile of Laval”, although less so, “Still Life With Flowers and Idol”, which he describes as “oddly seductive” - yet somehow “off”.
Which only serves to whet my appetite to visit still more - ugh!
Also in room 2 is a “sinister” and “unsettling” double portrait of his two children together with his artist friend, the Dutch painter, Meijer de Haan.
The exhibition rooms begin with a series of self portraits, painted from 1876 to 1903. There’s a classic late figure painting, “The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch”, including a Gauguin self portrait with a section piece of the same painting reversed on the wall behind him. This, according to Lambirth, perpetuates the myth of the individual above the art. He recommends moving through to the rest of the paintings in pursuit of “the art” itself.
Room 5 of the exhibition contains a selection of Paul Gauguin landscapes including; “Tahitian Landscape” (1891) and “Harvest: Le Pouldu” (1890) - yet lurking among this beauty is the contrast of the more sinister and symbolic aspect of Paul Gauguin’s paintings, in the form of “Loss of Virginity”.
Room 6 is temporary home to a feast of Paul Gauguin’s religious themed paintings; “The Yellow Christ”, “Breton Calvary” (The Green Christ), and “Vision of the Sermon” cleverly arranged with the “Christ in the Gardens of Olives”.
Lambirth continues through to Room 9, where what many critics regard as his best paintings, are to be found, including; “The Ancestors of Tehamana”, “Nevermore O Tahiti”, “What! Are You Jealous?”, “Where Are You Going?” and “Brooding Woman”. Before leaving there is also a further selection of late works by Gauguin, including “Delightful Days”, “The Ford” and “Tahitian Pastoral”.
The exhibition sounds a delight - and I haven’t even mentioned the displays of Gauguin drawings, water colors and carvings.
Christmas in London - now there’s a thought. An afternoon at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, followed by “afternoon tea” and a pint of English beer in the evening. The children will be delighted to receive some great art postcards for Christmas - much more original than expensive presents - and the money saved could stretch to a lovely hotel in Covent Garden!
Museum quality oil on canvas reproductions of Paul Gauguin’s paintings (including all those in the Tate Modern exhibition) are available through Soho-Art.