Vairumati (1892; French Polynesia) by Paul Gauguin

Vairumati - Paul Gauguin - 1892; French Polynesia

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Artwork Information

ArtistPaul Gauguin
Date1892; French Polynesia
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay, Paris, France

About Vairumati

The artwork titled “Vairumati” is a creation of the acclaimed Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, completed in the year 1892 during his time in French Polynesia. It is an oil painting on canvas that epitomizes the Post-Impressionist movement. This portrait is part of the collection housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

The artwork presents a striking portrayal of a Polynesian woman, presumably Vairumati, situated at the forefront of the composition. Her gaze is direct, confronting the viewer with an enigmatic expression. The figure is seated, reclining casually amid a lush backdrop, which lends an air of relaxed sensuality to the scene. Gauguin employs a rich, vivid palette, with warm red tones dominating the background, contrasting with the cooler hues that outline the figure. Behind the central character are two outlined figures that seem to be engaging in a traditional activity, giving the portrait a contextual grounding in the daily life of the portrayed subject’s culture.

Elements of the natural world are woven seamlessly into the setting. A white bird and a dark lizard are depicted prominently, representing the harmony and tension between different elements of nature. These animals also contribute to the exotic aura surrounding the subject, accentuating the “primitive” allure that Gauguin often sought in his work. The use of flat planes of color and the lack of perspective are characteristic of his Post-Impressionist style, conveying emotion and symbolism rather than realistic representation. The portrait is thus imbued with a mystical quality, in line with Gauguin’s inclination towards exploring themes of mythology and dream-like narratives in his art.

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