The right hand side is entirely drawn, giving us three figures who are relaxing within the hot climate of Tahiti. Behind them is an outline of the interior of a home, perhaps a porch with open sections that allows the wind and air to circulate. The figure nearest us on the right hand side has a darker outline added, as if initial pencil lines have been drawn over with pen in order to strengthen its appearance. The section on the left is completed in either oils or watercolours, though the detail is only put in an initial level. Typically, Gauguin would then add extra layers as he developed the painting in order to bring out particular detail and ultimately complete the artwork. Oils were a medium which was very much about the application of layers of paint over time, making it an arduous but more complex art form than watercolour. Tahitians captures the fusion of different mediums, an in-progress status that we would normally only see if we visited the artist in his studio.
The artwork is dated at 1891 and the Tate, who own the piece, list is as having been produced using oil paint, crayon and charcoal on paper. It was acquired in 1917 and has since featured in several of the institution's publications. Gauguin is well represented within the Tate, and his work fits somewhere between traditional and contemporary art, as well as being much loved by the public. His connection to the career of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has also allowed many to discover his career relatively easily. Within the composition itself, the painted figure, most likely male, opens his arms in a playful manner, seemingly encouraging the women to come out and socialise with him in the open air. Without the work being completed, it is hard to draw too many conclusions about the intentions of the artist, and frequently he would amend his work as he went, so the figurative sketches may not have translated into the final painting in quite the same way.
Two respected Gauguin paintings, Faa Iheihe and Harvest: Le Pouldu can both also be found in the collection of the Tate. They offer an exceptional overview of European art through the ages across their various venues and continue to expand the collection each and every year through a combination of private acquisitions and generous donations from locally based collectors. There has even been a number of foreign collectors who have gifted items to the institution, perhaps having lived in London at times in their life, or having some other connection to the country. All in all, those looking to learn more about art from the past few centuries will have plenty of things to see and enjoy at both the Tate Modern and Tate Britain, whatever their own personal tastes.
Tahitian Paintings by Paul Gauguin