Tahitian Man with His Arms Raised (1897; Punaauia, French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Tahitian Man with His Arms Raised - Paul Gauguin - 1897; Punaauia, French Polynesia

Artwork Information

TitleTahitian Man with His Arms Raised
ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1897; Punaauia, French Polynesia
Art MovementPost-Impressionism

About Tahitian Man with His Arms Raised

The artwork “Tahitian Man with His Arms Raised” is an oil on canvas painting by the renowned artist Paul Gauguin, created in the year 1897 while he was in Punaauia, French Polynesia. As a significant piece of Post-Impressionism, a movement characterized by vivid colors, thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, this work falls into the genre painting category, depicting scenes or events from everyday life.

The artwork encapsulates the essence of Tahiti with the central figure, a Tahitian man, standing with his arms raised towards the sky. The man’s pose suggests a moment of engagement with his surroundings or perhaps an expression of a spiritual or cultural ritual. He is depicted nude, save for a cloth around his loins, contributing to the sense of authenticity and respect for the culture that Gauguin often sought to capture. Beside him is another figure, seemingly engaged in a complementary action, bending forward while also apparently interacting with their environment.

The background features lush, dark foliage and bright spots of color, which could signify flowers or fruits indigenous to the tropical environment of Tahiti. One can discern what might be a figure in a red garment standing towards the right side of the canvas, further implying a narrative or social interaction that Gauguin observed or envisioned.

The colors used in the painting are indicative of Gauguin’s Post-Impressionist style; they are vibrant yet convey a sense of depth and mood through their application. The brushwork and color scheme create an almost dreamlike atmosphere, providing a window into the way Gauguin perceived the world around him during his time in Polynesia. The artwork, through its composition and execution, reflects Gauguin’s exploration of the themes of primitivism and the exotic, which were central to his body of work during this period.

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