What is interesting about this work is that as opposed to utilising abstract imagery, Gauguin employed everyday Tahitian scenery and what can only be called rather traditional motifs.
Not only can this be seen in the predominant use of organic tones, but it is evident in the presence of villagers which often serve as centrepieces for many of his works during this period.
A Melange of the Physical and the Divine
Arearea was also based upon the many ancient traditions that he was exposed to during this journey. Thus, this painting (and many others such as Nafea Paaipoipo and Cottage at Le Pouldu) exhibit a somewhat mystical quality.
However, Arearea is particularly notable due to the fact that both the mystical and the physical coexist in visible harmony.
In the foreground we see two seated women and a large red dog. The women are wearing traditional Tahitian garments and the one in white seems to be exhibiting a rather inquisitive stare.
A tree is immediately behind the two and indigenous plants can be viewed to their left. This can be thought of as the physical reality that Gauguin experienced during his stay.
However, the background takes on a more divine attribute. Several individuals can be observed worshipping what appears to be an ancient statue. The sky has been supplicated by a series of coloured squares.
It is also quizzical to note here that Gauguin has apparently enlarged a Maori statue to the size of a typical representation of Buddha.
The Harmony of Melancholy
Although it can be argued that many of his finest paintings can be traced to this period of his life, a persistent sense of melancholy appears to permeate these works.
From the rather forlorn expression on the face of the woman in the foreground to the purposeful use of sombre tones in the background, we are left wondering if Gauguin was attempting to make a statement about the relationship between traditional mankind and his relation to the gods.