by Mike Keating on Wednesday, 22nd of April 2015
Paul Gauguin is an example of someone who has lived out the ‘modern’ experiment. As the Western World has rejected the Christian message, and embraced pleasure seeking as the goal of life, it might be well to consider the life of Paul Gauguin. He was a post-impressionist painter and possibly the inventor of symbolism as an art form.
He had a reasonably normal life. He tried his hand at being a stock broker. He married and had children but then he started to throw off the limitations of society and religion and just do it! He made pleasure his goal and abandoned his family and journey to the Island of Tahiti and then to a remote Island where he could do exactly what he wanted among the natives.So he gave himself to pleasure. Effectively, he became a syphilitic pedophile. He became very sick as the disease had begun to effect his heart.
So he planned for one last painting. It is pictured here below. Gauguin called it his greatest work ever. This claim is controversial but nevertheless this painting is now incredibly valuable and is considered a national treasure. At the end of painting this piece of art, he did attempt to take his own life, but failed. He died soon afterwards because of his disease.
People can put their own interpretation on art. In order that no one would misunderstand its message, the painter painted a title on it in the top left hand corner; a very rare thing for a painter to do. It reads:Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
The painting is read from right to left. A baby is born. Then there is middle age. On the left, there is an old women almost hidden, waiting to die, looking at a white bird; a symbol of death. Maybe we can learn from the mistakes of another? Maybe not? Solomon writes in the Bible:
10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (Ecc 2:10-11 NKJ)
Jesus told us the truth when he told us that the world is not enough.
26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mat 16:26 NKJ)
Paul Gauguin lived a life of total pleasure seeking and at the end he left a clear message. Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Jesus taught us that we are from God and that we are his children, and we can choose to go home when we die.
- Ps Mike