Paul Gauguin On Solitude

 

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Paul Gauguin Self-Portrait with Halo 1889 oil on panel National Gallery of Art

Paul Gauguin was a painter who was praised as the leader of the symbolist artists in 1891. This style of painting was inspired by the symbolist writers of the time. In a letter to symbolist poet, critic, and editor of litarary journals Charles Morice, Gauguin says,

…[ There are] two kinds of beauty: one that results from instinct and another which would come from studying. The combination of the two, with its necessary modifications, produces certainly a great and very complicated richness, which the art critic must devote himself to discover….

Art has just gone through a long period of aberration caused by physics, chemistry, mechanics and the study of nature. Artists having lost all their savagery, having lost no more instincts, one could even say imagination, went astray on every path, looking for productive elements which they did not have enough strength to create. Consequently, they act only as a disorderly crowd, they feel frightened like lost ones when they are alone. That is why solitude must not be advised for everyone, since one must have strength to be able to bear it and act alone.

There’s a lot more in this letter than Gauguin’s thoughts on solitude. An artist must learn to art alone. It is in solitude where thoughts come and go freely without the harsh priority of daily chores. When an artist learns to be alone, they gain control of their environment. Like baby turtles they must learn to get from the nest to the ocean without getting lost or snatched up on the way. This requires some instinct and once alone, it requires study. There is an art in arting alone. There is a space where artists must meet themselves and say ok we’re in this together and I’m not leaving you here to drown. It does take a faith in yourself and a great faith in your art.

According to  Gauguin thought of himself as “a savage beyond the taint of civilization.” He escaped European civilization and fled to Polynesia where he spent his life painting. All while being pressured by his family to return to business. He painted alone so alone in fact that he did not even have the support of his own wife and family Until. The. Day. He. Died.

He’s right when he says solitude requires strength. I do, however, believe that solitude should be for everyone.

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My Abandonment Issues

I grew up as a dreamer in a single-family home. I wasn’t that different from my peers. However, most TV shows depicted two parent families or co-parenting which involved parents that were separated but did whatever they had to do to make it work out. The sad thoughts that come with the idea that someone that should want you like they do on TV, starts young. It’s not an obvious thing. The TV parenting style sat in the back of my mind while the humor was in the forefront. But at bedtime right before I’d fall asleep, I’d wonder why no dad would fight that hard to be in my life. Why no man at that point would do anything to ensure that I grew up with a mom and a dad.

That’s a glimpse of where my abandonment issues began. Everyone has at least a small dose of abandonment issues in their blood because people leaving us high and dry is a part of life. Some may have lost a loved one from death, some from a heartbreak, or some from losing their best friends when they got into high school. Loss isn’t easy on anyone and it looks different for everyone.

Yes, sad sad, but I grew up and slowly began to understand

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Jan Toorop

According to Mutualart.com, “Jan Toorop was a Dutch visual artist who was born in 1858. He has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and at the Rijksmuseum. Many works by the artist have been sold at auction, including ‘Portret van mevrouw M.J. de Lange — Portrait of Mrs M.J. de Lange’ sold at Christie’s Amsterdam ‘TWENTIETH CENTURY ART INCLUDING BELGIAN ART’ in 2005 for $964,318.

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Please Exist

There is a reason why you’re here

It’s to read this poem and to realize this poem’s existence would cease without you

It would be silent

A dead silence with the night air stuck in a place that never really existed

It would lack the chaos of us

Trees would fall into oblivion

I would fall into oblivion.

Without you,

there’d be no us

there’d be no poetry

You are the poetry

-Saschia