Paul Gauguin lived for just 54 years but he packed his brief life with activity.
The French painter spent his early childhood in Peru before returning to France.
As an adult, he continued to travel a lot. Most famously, he spent much of the last decade of his life in Tahiti, an island in southern Pacific Ocean.
Indeed, Gauguin is best known for his colorful paintings of Tahitians and their culture.
The restlessness of this great painter has been normal among modern artists since the middle of the 19th century.
They’re never satisfied for long with a certain style or way of life. Once something becomes conventional, it’s turned down.
The artistic culture that Gauguin developed from was that of Impressionism.
Painters like Claude Monet had wanted to paint how they saw the world, not how their teachers taught them it should be seen.
Gauguin, and similar artists like his friend Vincent van Gogh, moved even further away from “respectable” art than the Impressionists.
For them, it was not simply a matter of seeing the world differently, but feeling and thinking about it differently, too.
Gauguin saw, felt and thought differently from most members of European society.
He thought that European culture was too fancy and not spontaneous.
This is why he turned to the traditions of other parts of the world, like Africa, and, eventually, Tahiti.
Artists like Gauguin used the word “primitive” for these cultures, but not as a negative term.
用 “原始” 这个词形容保罗这样的艺术家，并没有贬义。
For him, Europe, in becoming modern, industrial and scientific, seemed less natural than other parts of the world.
In truth, Gauguin’s paintings may be unconventional but they are certainly not “primitive”.
They are the work of a painter with great awareness of what he was doing.
It was this awareness that made him such an important painter for those that came after, in the 20th century.
When we look closely at the works of Gauguin we begin to understand Pablo Picasso, and especially Henri Matisse, a little better.