7/19/2009

D'où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ?

One of benefits from living in Tokyo and its vicinity is to access various works of art.
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo now holds an exhibition of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) , through July 3rd to Sept. 23rd this year.

This morning, I went to the museum to see his works , especially for his great masterpiece which was painted in Tahiti, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897-98), which represents the consolidation of what he was attempting to achieve through his art. His works have been collected from other museums, as on loan, which includes the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston which houses that master piece.
He inscribed the title in French in the left upper corner. The title was influenced by his mentor, the Bishop of Orléans, Félix-Antoine-Philibert, where the three fundamental questions in this catechism were: "Where does humanity come from?" "Where is it going to?", "How does humanity proceed?"
I was fortunate enough in this chance, since without going to Boston, I saw his soul there.


The soul is on an oil painted canvas of 139.1 cm × 374.6 cm (54.8 in × 147.5 in).

The soul is depicted by enhanced colors as other symbolists did.
The soul is with people who lived from their birth to death with the original sin.
The soul is also symbolized by iconography of a god, a bird, etc.
The soul is full of unspoiled nature which the painter believed to exist.
That French painter moved restlessly from France to Tahiti in Southern Pacific Ocean.
It is said that he searched for the essentials of humanity whilst being torn apart by the extremities between civilized and savage, sacred and profane, life and death, man and woman, spiritual and materialistic. Gauguin was not trying to become uncivilized but more civilized by being more modem by understanding (at least superficially) primitive culture – he saw himself as more sophisticated, more modern and more avant-garde and he was exploiting their culture by getting food and sex from a local marriage that was permitted despite his real marriage in France.

All the story was new to me, and very impressed.
Behind the painting, the man made the history.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I saw this painting while I was in Boston, and it was overwhelming when you saw it in person. Don't we all wonder about the same fundamental questions? Many people think they have found the answers, and many more are still searching. For me, they are for now unanswerable questions, pending some kind of intervention. But hopefully my children and children's children would have better enlightenment.

Lynn
Hello from San Jose