Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was an extremely influential Post-Impressionist French painter. He went on a trip to Tahiti in hope of inspiration, he turned his focus to the beautiful and serene native women and these paintings have become very famous. The one I have chosen is titled Two Tahitian Women and I think it is a good example of gender discourse.
The Tahitian culture at the time was very accepting of the human body and people had no shame walking around half naked. Gauguin’s paintings represent a culture that has yet to be touched by ‘civilisation’. The culture was more centred around nature and freedom rather than the dull repetition of the European life Gauguin knew. His paintings of the naked women opposed the European expectations of the way women should dress and act.
Two Tahitian Women is a painting of two strong and confident native women with bare breasts, holding a tray of flowers and fruits. To me the artwork is very confronting but liberating at the same time. The two women represent a very powerful culture as they are not shy or self-conscious in any way. They both look very relaxed yet dominant which is rare in women from paintings in this time. The painting is, of course, another example of women being looked at as sexual objects from a male perspective however it is different because it holds no guilt or introversion for the viewer as the women’s gaze is one of neither invitation nor rejection.
I chose this artwork as my supplementary text because I think it displays the values of the time of both the Tahitian and European culture. It is a beautiful piece of art as well as a good demonstration of gender discourse toward women and the attitude toward certain cultures that are more ‘primitive’ than others. [continues]
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