Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paul Gauguin - Oviri

Paul Gauguin, Oviri, 1894
(Musee d'Orsay)
The title of this sculpture, Oviri,  is derived from a Tahitian word meaning "savage."   It is the depiction of a Tahitian deity  that is a woman-destroyer, who is destroying a blood stained she-wolf by her hip while another one lies at her feet.
Gauguin was born in Peru to a French father and a half Peruvian mother and he liked to think of himself as being savage, someone who is not completely within the boundaries of respectable society. This sculpture became his grave monument.

This is a partially glazed, stoneware ceramic in a light brown tone, the color and the from recalling the more androgynous body type of the Maori female.  There is a roughness to the surface of the sculpture and a crudeness to the glaze due to the fact that it is splotchy.  Gauguin liked to leave certain areas deliberately rough in order to emphasize the primitive, where the artist has left his mark, his touch, making the work more real, authentic.

He produced this sculpture when he was back from his first trip to Tahiti, in France, where he could get materials easily. Unfortunately, he hadn't received the grand reception he was expecting upon his return.  This sculpture might be interpreted as the visual manifestation of his disillusionment with his life, art and career.  It could also be classified as reworking the traditional western nude, a commentary on the female nude in the sculpture tradition.

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