Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) gave us the Pont-Aven School master paintings, mystical canvases of a yellow Christ in a style almost imitating fauvism, and the long, lithe bodies of Polynesian women languishing on the beaches in Tahiti.
A far cry from this post-card paradise, this beautiful new graphic novel follows the last two years of the artist’s life, from his arrival in the Marquesas Islands to his illness and rebellion against colonial rule. We are introduced to a penniless Gauguin who has rejected French culture and decided to go into exile on one of the Hiva Islands, the same place renowned singer Jacques Brel chose to live out the rest of his days. Fascinated by the beautiful landscapes and the bodies and souls of the indigenous Maori people, he built himself a wooden cabin and named it the Maison du Jouir. He flaunted customs and respectability, called for disobedience, sexual freedom and the end of colonialist rule, refused to pay his taxes and became the spokesperson for the native people.
This personal uprising did not last long, and[...]