Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, was born on 7 June 1848 in Paris and died on 8 May 1903 in Hiva Oa, on the Marquesas Islands.|
Today he is considered one of the great French painters, precursors of modern art. His image will remain forever attached to Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands where he now rests, joined 75 years later by Jacques Brel. One year before his departure for Tahiti, Gauguin wrote: “There in Tahiti I will be able, in the silence of the beautiful tropical nights, to listen to the sweet music of the movements of my heart in loving harmony with the mysterious beings of my entourage. Free at last, without concern for money, and could love, sing and die.” But when he arrived in 1891, he admitted to being “disillusioned” with a Polynesian society dominated by French colonialism and confronted with the disappearance of its culture and traditions. Two years later, Gauguin asked for his repatriation to France. But faced with the reception made by the Parisian critic at his exhibitions and a serial of failures, he finally decided in 1895 to return to Tahiti. In 1899, he quit his job at the Public Works office and moved with his new partner Pahura to the seaside in Punaauia, not far from the public school 2+2 = 4. Gauguin painted the same year “Trois tahitiens” (subject of the philatelic issue). On a colourful and lively background, these three models of three quarters, express the power emanating from their undressed bodies. Two women with enigmatic looks are on both sides of a young man seen from the back, who serves as a pivot for the work. The painting seems to suggest a choice offered, perhaps between civilized life, represented by the tempting young woman and well-dressed on the left, with her hair adorned with flowers, her dress more sytlish, and on the right, the simplicity of the «wild» life and primitive, embodied by the naked young woman in front of the spectator, carrying fresh and luminous flowers. However, the young man’s profile, which eems to have made his choice, expresses the tension – the guilt ? – linked to such a decision. Gauguin will never cease to seek the “wilderness” of our islands and the “primitive” character of his way of life. In 1901, Gauguin left Tahiti for the Marquesas Islands and settled with the very young Vaeoho in his studio, which he baptized by provocation, the “House of enjoyment”. The controversial artist, plagued by illness, succumbed to a heart attack. Gauguin will write “What I desire is a corner of myself still unknown”. His life has been a perpetual search for an elsewhere both artistic and geographical, let us bet that he had found on our country, his last stopover.
Fare Rata, French Polynesia Post Office wishes you to rediscover the work of this artist, who walked our shores 130 years ago.
Find your philatelic circular here