by Alexandra Tuschka
The tanned girl in bright clothing looks invitingly at the viewer. She sits cross-legged in the right edge of the picture and faces us frontally. Another girl in blue sits behind her - she is absorbed in playing the flute. In front, a dog roams through the picture. He has lowered his head and seems to be following a scent.
Gauguin's painting thematizes - as so often - awakening sexuality. The girl in white is distinguished by this choice of color as a pure virgin, while the dog in front can be interpreted as a sign of animal and thus male sexuality. The compositional line of the dog's neck is echoed in the girl's arm, establishing a relationship between the two.
The block-like, monumental picture surfaces are interrupted by plant motifs. It is not only the white dress that makes it clear - for Gauguin, the intense, opaque colors are always also carriers of meaning in the painting. He considered old-fashioned symbolism obsolete; these would "freeze the life of the picture in a dull realism".
Paul Gauguin - Arearea
Oil on canvas, 1892, 75 x 94 cm, Musée d'Orsay in Paris