As a successful stockbroker Gauguin initially dabbled in painting only as a hobby. But in 1883, prompted by Pissarro, he broke with his original profession for good to dedicate his life to painting. With his first pictures he regularly featured in the group exhibitions of the Impressionists. Leaving behind the European illusionist traditions, he increasingly sought stimulation in exotic and primitive cultures. He found family ties depressing, felt disenchanted with civilization, and fled further and further from them. First to Pont Aven in Brittany, then to Martinique, and finally in 1891 to Tahiti.
The art of Gauguin became consummate in his years in Tahiti. He sought to express in the language of painting the dignity and harmony these peoples had retained from their ancient way of life and culture. The Black Pigs, which he painted in his first year in Tahiti, captures an exciting moment of stylistic transition. The foliage of the trees and the reed roof of the hut are formed in the Impressionist fashion with iridescent parallel brushstrokes, but these are gradually replaced by more uniform surfaces of colour, and the forms are outlined with strong blue lines. Here, particularly in the case of the animals and the female figures depicted in a state of archaic rest, he used compact, simplified forms. Within the deliberately composed structure the spatial relations of the motifs is governed by formal unity.

Ferenc Tóth


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