Hina, Moon Goddess and Te Fatu, Earth Spirit (1893; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Hina, Moon Goddess and Te Fatu, Earth Spirit - Paul Gauguin - 1893; French Polynesia

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Artwork Information

TitleHina, Moon Goddess and Te Fatu, Earth Spirit
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1893; French Polynesia
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US

About Hina, Moon Goddess and Te Fatu, Earth Spirit

The artwork titled “Hina, Moon Goddess and Te Fatu, Earth Spirit” was created by the artist Paul Gauguin in 1893 during his time in French Polynesia. It is an oil on canvas piece that reflects the Post-Impressionist movement, particularly in its expressive use of color and symbolic representation. The genre of this mythological painting places it within the rich tapestry of cultural narratives and spiritual beliefs of the region. The artwork is housed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, NY, US, where it is part of their permanent collection.

The artwork features two central figures set against a backdrop that is rich with symbolic elements. In the foreground, a nude female figure is seen from the back, with her head slightly turned as she reaches upward toward a large, haunting face that looms above her, which represents the Earth Spirit, Te Fatu. The female figure is presumably Hina, the Moon Goddess, and her body language exudes a connection to the spiritual entity above her. The Earth Spirit’s face is imbued with a sense of silent power, emerging from the dark background with a penetrating gaze that projects both wisdom and an inscrutable presence. The surrounding landscape is abstract and suggests an otherworldly realm, with hints of vegetation and flowing water that possibly signify life and the natural cycles of the earth. Notable is the stylized representation of animals on the upper right—likely pigs—delineating a theme of fertility and the abundance of nature. The painterly technique and the juxtaposition of colors enhance the mystical ambiance of the scene, placing the figures into a narrative that evokes themes of creation, connection to nature, and the transcendent relationship between deities and the material world.

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