In his mid-thirties, Paul Gauguin abandoned his life as a stockbroker to become an artist. He sought to escape the constraints of industrialized society and dreamed of an unspoiled paradise where he could avoid his financial problems. In 1891, more than a decade after his career change, Gauguin pursued this imagined utopia in the French colony of Tahiti. Although the island did not live up to his fantasy, his paintings present Tahiti as a kind of Eden. Here, Gauguin depicted two Tahitian women wearing traditional skirts, standing beneath pandanus trees, a palm-like plant with long, spear-shaped leaves. The fallen foliage appears as ribbons of yellow against the dark red soil, suggesting a kind of mystic writing emanating from a primal, earthen ground.
Nicole R. Myers
The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture