Arearea I (1892; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Arearea I - Paul Gauguin - 1892; French Polynesia

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Artwork Information

TitleArearea I
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1892; French Polynesia
Dimensions75 x 94 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Arearea I

The artwork titled “Arearea I” was created by the notable artist Paul Gauguin in 1892 during his time in French Polynesia. This oil painting on canvas embodies the ethos of the Post-Impressionism movement, measuring 75 by 94 centimeters. It is a genre painting, currently housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

“Arearea I” by Gauguin depicts a vibrant and enigmatic scene that exudes the exotic essence and the idyllic perception of life in French Polynesia. In the foreground, two women, one in a white dress and the other in a yellow garment, are portrayed engaged in a quiet interaction, with the former seated and focused intently on the viewer while the latter appears absorbed in listening or speaking. A dog with a ruddy hue dominates the immediate ground, rendering a sense of harmony with the humans. Rather than realistic portrayals, these figures are stylized, as is characteristic of the Post-Impressionist approach, where expressiveness and symbolic content take precedence over verisimilitude.

The background is a tapestry of colors and forms that meld together—other figures in the midst of communal or leisurely activities are visible in the distance, amidst an abstracted landscape that fuses the flora and terrain into an almost dreamlike tableau. The use of bold outlines and flat areas of color, alongside the ambiguous spatial relationships between the figures and the landscape elements, reflects Gauguin’s departure from the naturalistic constraints of Impressionism and his journey towards a more avant-garde representation that appeals to the emotions and the imagination. The name “Arearea” implies an atmosphere of joy and amusement which permeates the scene, inviting viewers to speculate on the narratives and relationships unfolding within this lush, remote setting.

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