Gauguin – (Shape Motifs and Abstraction)

Paul Gauguin - Still Life with Three Puppies - 1888 - 92 x 63 cm - oil on wood

Gauguin has shown us in this playful still life how rhythm and harmony can be provided by repeating shapes in a composition.  In this painting he uses ovals to provide a wonderful dance for the viewer’s perusal.  Even the table is an oval.  There are many and it is not necessary to count them.  What’s important is knowing that we respond to the harmony of the shapes before we take in the information.

Gauguin’s brilliant play with the shadows is also wonderful and he is abstracting to refine the composition.  The light source seems to be coming from the top right but where are the shadows of the three goblets and the puppy’s (with the orange oval representing it’s ear) rear left leg?  The reason for their omission is they would disrupt the harmony of the composition.  And in the hands of a master like Gauguin, we accept these sophisticated considerations

Abstraction permits us to interpret, which engages and invites us to participate with the artist.

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