Mysterious Water (1893; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Mysterious Water - Paul Gauguin - 1893; French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleMysterious Water
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1893; French Polynesia
Dimensions99 x 75 cm
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About Mysterious Water

The artwork “Mysterious Water” was created by artist Paul Gauguin in 1893 during his time in French Polynesia. It is an oil on canvas painting, part of the Post-Impressionism art movement. The dimensions of the piece are 99 by 75 centimeters, characteristic of a genre painting. Currently, this work resides in a private collection.

The artwork presents a richly textured scene full of vibrant, contrasting colors and organic shapes, which is characteristic of Gauguin’s style during his Tahitian period. It depicts a Tahitian figure standing in a body of water, likely a stream or a pond, with a strikingly poised stance. The figure is slightly bent forward while reaching to the water with one hand, as if attempting to capture something or interact with the water’s surface. This figure is surrounded by lush foliage and the reflection of the surroundings on the water, adding to the painting’s exotic and enigmatic allure.

Gauguin’s use of color and form immerses the viewer in a dreamlike tropical environment, with warm and cool colors mingling to create depth and interest. His technique reflects Post-Impressionist ideals, emphasizing the emotional and symbolic content over the realistic depiction of the subject matter. The inclusion of native Tahitian elements reflects Gauguin’s interest in ‘primitive’ art and culture, which he saw as a source of purity and authenticity away from the corruption of European civilization. The painting’s title, “Mysterious Water,” further reflects the enigmatic quality of the scene, hinting at the spiritual or introspective quest that Gauguin often sought in his work.

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