Author | Journalist | Content Strategist | The Modern Salonnière
Prying into the lives of painters is a perfect tack for literary adventuring because there is generally so much drama their stories have been told repeatedly.
Take Paul Gauguin, for instance. Who hasn’t heard at least one wild story about the bohemian Frenchman who made haste to Tahiti and had himself a harem within a fortnight? I saw many of the paintings he created there in 2010 when the Tate Modern in London staged Gauguin: Maker of Myth. The nearly 150 items on view included paintings, drawings, carvings and prints, an assemblage that I would say is one of the most stimulating spectacles I’ve ever seen.
The Tate had gathered works from museums, institutions and collectors worldwide, and many of Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings I found to be vibrantly alive. To have the opportunity to walk through this revolutionary period of his life was remarkable, as the curators had assembled more than just art—even including a replica of the door-surround on the two-story hut he built himself, onto which he’d scrawled “Maison de Jouir”—so apropos of his sexually-charged mindset when he lived in the islands. It’s remarkable to be able to take in such a comprehensive view of an artist’s work; the paintings gave me visuals to enliven a poem I had written about Gauguin so I’m grateful I was able to see his Tahitian oeuvre. I am always on the lookout of exhibitions by painters of this stature to feature on the The Diary of an Improvateur.