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Gauguin's paintings bear witness to his search for a primitive, spiritual lifestyle. As early as 1886 he had abandoned 'civilized' Paris for the Breton countryside, and his quest continued in the remote South Sea Islands. In 1888, he painted his first mature work, Vision after the Sermon, while living among the peasants of Brittany. Like the Yellows Christ, it expressed his own feelings about religion in a distinctive, non-realist manner, with bold colours and outlines.
On his second visit, poverty and disease nearly broke his spirit and the great allegory Where Do We Come From? was intended as a final meditation on life. But Gauguin survived his subsequent attempt at suicide. Late paintings such as The White Horse and Breasts and Red Flowers show a new-found lyrical harmony.
Writer – Marshall Cavendish
Painting Gallery of Poul Gauguin-
In a Breton churchyard, peasant women experience a vision of Jacob the father of Israel wrestling with an angel. The Old Testament story may have been the subject of a sermon delivered by the priest who appears on the right. Blending symbol with reality, Gauguin frames the blood-red field of spiritual battle with the women's white headdresses, and separates them from the vision with a tree.
Peasant women kneel to pray at a wayside crucifix in the Breton countryside The humanity of the Christ figure experience is to the women. Yet the colour is totally unreal the yellow body of Christ and the red trees stress the other worldliness of the scene. The child–like drawing with its strong black outline is deliberately reminiscent of medieval stained glass.
Two statuesque women laze on a sanity Tahitian beach self-absorbed and silent in a mood of timelessness and languor. The background is made up of bonds of flat colour, which divide up the canvas vertically. This has the effect of pushing the figures forward, emphasizing their monumental solidity.
Gauguin mixes Tahitian with Egyptian imagery in the frieze-like painting, and in fact the composition derives from a photograph of an ancient Egyptian wall-painting. A simple rhythm of turned heads and stylized gestures runs across the canvas as a counterpoint to the girls bent knees, which are all turned in the same direction. The point is applied very thinly on the coarse sacking canvas-Gauguin was too poor to be generous with his paint.
Painted after one of the worst years in Gauguin's life, this 12-foot canvas was intended to be his parting message to the world .The painting 'reads' from right to left, beginning with the baby and moving across to the old woman contemplating death. The questions of the title written in the yellow panel in French rather than Tahitian remained unanswered and unanswerable.