“The combinations are unlimited. The mixture of colors produces a dirty tone. Any color alone is a crudity and does not exist in nature. Colors exist only in an apparent rainbow, but how well rich nature took care to show them to you side by side in an established and unalterable order, as if each color was born out of another!” Paul Gauguin
What most impresses me with Paul Gauguin is restless desire to find his own original style in painting.
After mastering impressionist methods Gauguin decided that he reached a plateau in the impressionism and wanted something else. He could stay, but his adventurous soul wanted more than just the status of good impressionist painter. French art critics also played a role in steering Gauguin to search for new, original ways to express his visions on the canvas.
With the help of his descent and years of service in the French merchant marine, Gauguin left France in pursuit for personal and creative freedom. In hope to escape the limitations of the European society Gauguin traveled to Caribbean where he studied nature and landscapes, while also educating himself in the latest French ideas on the subject of painting and color theory. Experimenting with style which sometimes is referred to Primitivism and later eventually evolved to Symbolism, Gauguin developed unique sense for colors. Influenced by the nature and culture of the society in Tahiti Gauguin’s colorful painting palette became exclusively distinguished and his most recognized trademark.
It is interesting to read Paul Gauguin’s own thoughts about pure colors: “…they reprove our colors which we put [unmixed] side by side. In this domain we are perforce victorious, since we are powerfully helped by nature which does not proceed otherwise. A green next to a red does not produce a reddish brown, like the mixture [of pigments], but two vibrating tones. If you put chrome yellow next to this red, you have three tones complementing each other and augmenting the intensity of the first tone: the green. Replace the yellow by a blue, you will find three different tones, though still vibrating through one another. If instead of the blue you apply a violet, the result will be a single tone, but a composite one, belonging to the reds.”
I do admit my fascination with the ease Gauguin combined his paint palette in his Tahitian period. The colors in his works are amazingly simple, yet rich and deep like the Caribbean nature. In a tribute to Paul Gauguin, before my trip to Europe in May, I have created a painting which although is abstract in my opinion resembles the colors of the master Gauguin.
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