Who is Paul Gauguin? Did you know that until he was 40 he worked in a bank?!
He was born in Paris in 1848, but he spent his childhood in Lima and Peru! Living in these places gave him a love of exotic, faraway places. He returned to France when he was seven, but he never forgot Peru and often dreamed of returning there.
Gauguin was a Post-Impressionist artist. He was influenced by folk art and primitive art, and kept detail to a minimum in his paintings. He used bold flat areas of colour, like in this painting called Harvest: Le Pouldu. Can you see how the hills and the fields are made up of squares of colour?
When he was not working in the bank, he would paint and get to know the artists who hung out in the cafes near his house. He became great friends with an artist called Lucien Pissarro who taught him all about Impressionism.
When Gauguin devoted his life to painting he set off on his travels, first in France and then to Polynesia.
This unfinished painting above, called Tahitians, was made in Tahiti in 1891 during Gauguin’s first trip to the island. He was so enchanted with the place that he returned a couple of years later and remained until 1903. His paintings of Tahiti became famous after he died, because of their bold, exotic colours, and the feeling of calm. Unlike in Europe, where the countryside was being dug up to create cities and roads, Gauguin’s paintings were about people and nature in harmony, showing a simpler life.
What do think of Gauguin’s paintings? Have you ever been to or drawn an exotic place? How are the colours and shapes different in a rainforest compared to the colours in a city?