Paul Gauguin - When Will You Marry (1892)
Size - 40 in x 30 in
Medium - Oil on Canvas
Paul Gauguin is a French post-impressionist, who travelled to Tahiti in 1890's with the intention of reviving his work by adapting into a society which he believed to be free of western influence.
The creation is very colorful, a mix of vibrant yellows, red, green and blue. The painting shows two Tahitian women seated on the ground. They look in different directions, and neither appear to be looking at the painter. The figure of the woman on the foreground is vibrant, she is resting one hand while leaning forward, seemingly about to rise and leave. Her clothes are free flowing, which embody a spirit of liberation which the artist sees in the culture. Her eyes glance toward to woman behind her, she has a slight pout in her mouth which suggests a rift between the two. Her garments are distinctly western and she sits upright, her pose very prim. She too glances at her companion from the corner of her eyes with an expression of disapproval.
The appearances of the two, portray an inviting posture signaling a certain degree of openness which clashes with the stern and forbidding nature of the other. The surrounding landscape in this painting is very diverse, there are plenty of trees, water and mountains. The first woman's attire flawlessly harmonizes with the landscape, the latter woman's garment causes her to stand out, portraying the conflict in the scenery. There are two figures in the distance, it is unclear who they are, if they are men or if they are waiting for these women.
The painting clearly portrays the contrast between two cultures, the free spirited lady in the flowing garments, she has broken free of the mentality of a woman as a homemaker that commonly marked western society in the past. The other in the background brings the traditional western values of the 19th century. The white daisy on the woman may symbolize that she is in the prime of her youth, ready for marriage and the other woman has her hand raised in question. It is unclear if the women represent the clash between the cultures as explained, or an illustration of two different attitudes.
It is said that Paul Gauguin visited Tahiti in search of a paradise in which he could create primitive art, by escaping from the European society, technology and cultural traditions. But it did not meet his expectation of rural and primitive life, as the country was colonized as early as the 18th century. This painting was created in 1892, where he settled with a young girl and adapted to the local life. We see through his paintings that he did find inspiration in Tahiti, the creativity and expressive nature are fine examples. This painting was also sold for a staggering $300m recently and was purchased by a Swiss art collector.