Read Paul Gauguin’s travel fiction, Noah Noah, you would be forgiven if you thought he had found the perfect artist figure when he arrived in Tahiti in 1891. He wrote, “All the joys of free life—animal and human—are mine.” Gauguin told the French newspaper, that he was a successful broker on the stock exchange in Paris Lecco de Paris Before leaving for Tahiti he was dismissive of the stifling “civilization effect” to dedicate himself to art and pleasure. Although he was disappointed with the extent to which French colonial rule of the island had corrupted, Gauguin’s fascination with Polynesian culture and what he referred to as “primitivism” characterizes much of his best known work. His dedication to his artistic vision at any cost – his pursuit of creativity heaven—It continued to pique our curiosity in the 21st century. Like Gauguin himself expectHe became more of a legend than a man.
What is less attractive, however, is his well-documented propensity for young girls who served as his mistresses and recurring subjects in his work. In his painting in 1892 Manaò tupapaú (Watching the Soul of the Dead), a naked girl is lying on her front, staring at the viewer, on the screen looking terrified. Gauguin’s biographers generally assert that her name was Tihamana. She was reportedly 13 years old when Gauguin pursued her, which eventually led to her contracting syphilis and becoming pregnant. More than 100 years later, in 2017, Louis Vuitton used delightful landwhich features a naked girl – likely Tahamana – as a design for a movie luxury handbags collection. In the same year, Gauguin’s drawings of Polynesian women and girls were animated and displayed on the facade of the Grand Palais in Paris, delighting passers-by.
Daisy Lafarge’s first novel, pee, takes a unique approach to an ongoing question: How, in the age of the #MeToo movement, should we interact with the work of men like Paul Gauguin? Apparent, pee It seems to follow in context Recent novels that deals with psychological and sexual violence – most notably Megan Nolan works of despair Kate Elizabeth Russell my dark vanessa– –By focusing on a young woman’s vulnerable relationship with an abusive man, extrapolating the nuances of that relationship as broader indicators of modern misogyny. But pee Doing something more complicated: Larfarge uses the thoroughly contemporary story of a traumatized graduate student in her year in Europe to boldly reinterpret Gauguin’s life and legacy. By reconstructing one of the giants of artistic law as an irredeemable villain, the novel makes it impossible to separate art from the artist. The titular figure, Paul, in evocation of Gauguin, is so reprehensible that we are compelled to condemn him—and thus Gauguin himself, by extension. what or what, pee He asks us, is the artist’s work so intrinsically valuable that we continue to display, sell and celebrate it more than a century later?
Lafarge’s Paul transformed into the 21st century, the rotten middle-aged owner of Noa Noa, a Pyrenean organic farm (named after Gauguin’s book). Narrator Frances, a shy woman with a degree in medieval history who was fired from her job as a research assistant in Paris, finds the farm on a job-sharing website. She arrives in Noa Noa, which soon reveals itself more as a municipality than a workplace. Paul quickly asks her to come to bed, and over time, his treatment of her deteriorates and turns into psychological and sexual manipulation. This attitude leads Francis the already fragile to the point of involuntary silence, a silence reminiscent of Gauguin’s voiceless and painted themes. Like his name, Paul has spent a great deal of time in Tahiti, where he claims to have found true artistic freedom. Paul also used the people of Tahiti as thinkers – a depiction of the place where Gauguin painted – and sees the country as nothing more than a strange backdrop to his journey of self-discovery. The book notes that Paul, like Gauguin, had sexual relations with young girls, which he justifies on the grounds of a “cultural difference” in Tahiti that allowed him to engage in child exploitation without consequences.
where pee He does not stray from reality in his willful refusal to explain his behavior based on brilliance. Lafarge-Ball is denied a defense of artistic value that often forgives toxic creative genres. Her Paul is not an accomplished artist. It’s pathetic, a failure. But while his behavior may immediately alienate readers, Francis is so desperate for guidance and security that it takes much longer to come to terms with his true identity. This slow process of perception guides the novel and is often presented in scenes of observation, parallel to the act of viewing a work of art.
In one clip near the end of the book, you watch Frances Paul stare lustfully at a group of pre-teen girls. Later, in the face of indisputable evidence of his predatory sexual orientation, he shatters. “It’s hard to look,” she thinks to herself. “It’s very hard to look away.” Within this question – to look, or to look away? –pee He asks us to consider what we really see in paintings like The soul of the dead is watching. Francis’ annoyance becomes our own, blurring fiction and reality until it is impossible to think of Gauguin without the ugly ghost of Paul.
In the novel, blaming both men might be an obvious reaction, but in the real world, it’s much more serious. “I can absolutely abhor and hate, but business is business,” said Vicente Todoli, former director of Tate Modern. He said Gauguin. Viewers may ask: What harm can you do looking at a painting when both the artist and the subject die? But the decision to display Gauguin’s art is a conscious choice – and museums recently decided to reveal the artist’s behavior. So it is a decision to consume his work. Lafarge, through Francis’ struggle to really see Paul for who he is, positions the act of testifying—often described as negative—as an act of complicity. Her inaction in the face of Paul’s behavior feels like acceptance, allowing Paul to continue to delude himself that he is a “good guy.” Faced with Gauguin’s work, you are asked to make a calculation: is the pleasure of watching it worth the pain of producing it?
As the novel draws to a close, Paul takes Francis on an impromptu road trip to visit a group of his friends, most of whom seem ambivalent about him. One of the men said to her, “If I were a woman, I would keep my distance.” In another scene, Paul pressures Frances to have oral sex with him in a crib, which visibly gets on her nerves. Frances grows suspicious of Paul, and finally confronts him about his time in Tahiti. As expected, he starts crying. “I’m not a bad guy,” he says, begging for understanding. But Francis refuses. Instead, as they were returning to Noa Noa, she jumped out of his car and bought a ticket to Paris.
It’s not a wholly satisfactory decision – Paul receives no meaningful punishment. Wisely, however, Lafarge left the central question of the novel open. Should we look or should we look away? In Francis’ escape, Lafarge appears to be landing on the last option. But there is another possibility, I think.
Earlier this year, the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin exhibited a series of Gauguin’s paintings alongside works by artists trying to account for his legacy. In one room, Gauguin’s paintings and drawings are set against a live video artwork by Rosalind Nashashibe and Lucy Squire, titled why are you angry?which was created in response to Gauguin No te aha oe riri. Dressed in the same clothes and posed in the same poses as the subjects of that painting, the girls in the video stare at you as you pass. You can see their bodies change, their breathing, their human convulsions. The line between the person and the figure is blurred; You wouldn’t have been able to think of the major brushworks of Gauguin’s paintings without realizing the eyes of the girls on your back. I turned around. time passed. They were still looking at you, answering their looks.