I Saw Gauguin in Seattle…

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I Saw Gauguin in Seattle…

28
Apr,2012

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So this morning after I woke up I did a few things around the apartment while I ate a cinnamon roll from Macrina Bakery and checked email. I stripped the linens off the bed of my guest room, which is where I now sleep, put them in the wash and got dressed. Although I was casually building my day, I knew I had one place to go first… So, once all the primary chores were done, I put on a sweater, a pair of jeans, my canvas boots, stuffed my Macbook Air and notepads in my bag and headed off to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Gauguin exhibit before it ends tomorrow.

I kick myself for not catching it during the week days and a long time ago… Oh My GOSH… I hate crowds.

Anyway…

So, I get into the exhibit and the first thing I notice about Gauguin’s work is the detail in his paint strokes. You know someone’s a genius in that regard when you can look at the work of other artists and see that they lack his ability to craft by using such intricate detail of color in their brush strokes.

Okay… so yeah, much respect for that…

But then, the longer I stayed there and viewed his work, the more disturbed I became and I’m not sure if that’s what he intended or not.

First, he called the Tahitians all savages.

Okay, so no big deal because we know that somehow early Europeans felt they were above savagery. I won’t go into listing all the the savage behavior in such societies but I’ll just start and end with the Spanish Inquisition… brought to you by our old friend religion…

I say that though because there was nothing savage about these people to me. They were real and there were thoughts behind the physical depiction of the image…

However, I don’t know if my reading of his artwork comes from a modern day mind-set or what.

The more I studied his depictions of beautiful Maori women, twisting and turning and staring at their capturer, the more I began to see beyond their eyes and into their thoughts. Each of them had this same look in their eyes. It was like, contempt. Gauguin was an invader and not only did they not like it but they didn’t seem to care for him too much either. It personal contempt. They know something about him. He had secrets that they were holding and we’ll never know because we weren’t there.

There’s this one painting of a woman lying in bed on her stomach, looking at him. There was this strange note card beside the painting saying something about how he came in from a late night and he supposedly frightened her because he somehow let the spirits in or something. It was stupid and any person who engaged in critical study would probably question that story.

That look in her eyes is not fear in a way that it was written in that description. Although, I did see a pensiveness in them. And the way she’s laying there… There was sex in her positioning. So either this is how he saw her or this is how she was. Gauguin was screwing here! Duh. And for free? I don’t think so… For money? I don’t think so… For what? I don’t know.

I don’t know… after a while of seeing the captured subjects wanting him, us to leave them be, I decided to adhere to their wishes and I left.

See that’s the problem with me. I see to deeply, feel too deeply and I couldn’t just be a spectator who couldn’t be affected by the portraits. I have to visualize people, life beyond the canvas. They just have to become real to me….

Anyway, I actually looked around for a while after I left the exhibit. On the top floor they had all of these African masks from different tribes. I took a lot of pictures because they were so interesting. But here’s what really interesting… I made it to the Native American artifacts and there were masks there too. As I read the information cards of each, these two different cultures on opposite sides of the world had a lot in common. The dances with masks. Dances to teach lessons and for goodwill mostly. The Africans had masks for fishing voyages. The Native Americans did a lot of spirit filled dancing with their masks. The raven is really meaningful in many tribal factions too.

It was just interesting… How much early people have in common as far as communicating with their peoples through dance and song. Even some early Irish cultures have such traditions. It put it all in perspective for me. This notion that we all started at one place…

I love that!

Anyway… It was a great exhibit and a lovely museum. You know what… It actually made me kick myself for not visiting the The British Museum both times when I was in London. Even the Tate Museum… I actually walked right past it on my first visit and didn’t go inside…

Sighhh…

But, I was able to get some good writing in today too.

I must say, today was the reason why it’s sort of cool to live in Seattle. I can walk to the art museum and then to the coffee shop to write and then to Whole Foods to get some soap and then home!

Got to love that.

I must eat something now. I haven’t eaten since that cinnamon roll seven hours ago, which isn’t good…

Peace.

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