During my UK adventure last week, I had one of the most sensually remarkable experiences of my life. You might surmise it was enjoying the opulence of the famed Dorchester in London’s Mayfair across from Hyde Park, and while that was truly a sumptuous experience, the mind-blowingly arousing escapade was visiting Gauguin: Maker of Myth, the new exhibition at the Tate Modern that opened the day I arrived in London. There were two other journalists on the press tour who wanted to see the show, Tara Weingarten and Alain Gayot.
I surmised that opening day tickets would be difficult if not impossible to get but the Dorchester came through and I was awed by the collection of paintings the Tate Modern had pulled together from museums, institutions and collectors around the globe. Most of my favorites of Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings were there and to have the opportunity to walk through room after room of his work was remarkable. When I saw the letters that Gauguin had written to Van Gogh, the sketches he’d inserted into the body of the text beautifully illustrative of his words (thanks to Gayot’s translating the French), I felt time falling away and a pinpoint of history exploding in the room. What a pleasure to see!
Yes, Jeeves, there’s an app for that!
I’ve long been fascinated with Gauguin’s Tahitian period. When I read Noa Noa, his Tahitian Journal, I was struck by how tortured the man had become by that time in his life, taking arsenic with regularity because he was struggling so. “For some time past I had been growing restless,” he wrote. “My work suffered under it. It is true that I lacked many of the essential implements; it irritated me to be reduced to impotence in the face of artistic projects to which I had passionately given myself. But it was joy most of all which I lacked.”
As I read how the further he entered into his fantasies, the more shattered they became, I decided to write a play called “Ghost of a Chance.” I was honored with a staged reading several years ago and received some excellent advice from the actors who gave their time and talents to the process. The exhibition has motivated me to work on it again. Happy sensual roaming everyone! If you get to London, don’t miss this show!