Our Art / Paul Gauguin
Pursuing art as a spiritual path to be closer to nature, over his lifetime Gauguin (1848–1903) would retreat further and further away from urban life creating art rich with mystical symbolism. Although he began painting by learning the Impressionists’ techniques from Van Gogh and Cezanne, Gauguin found depicting the Paris avant-garde’s focus on everyday world as “artificial.” Instead he pursued creating what he viewed as a more pure, “savage” art, expressed through mythical symbols. These Symbolist works were strongly influenced by the so-called “primitive” arts of Africa, South America, and French Polynesia (where Gauguin would later live). Desiring liberation from the European art world, Gauguin abandoned his family for the island of Tahiti pursuing artistic freedom and the Romantic idea of discovering the spiritual in nature.
Though underappreciated during his lifetime, Gauguin is now recognized for his experimental use of color and distinct visual style. His mythological scenes with emotional symbolism that would evolve the Impressionist art movement.