Gauguin attempted to develop new techniques in Tahiti. His basic style had changed very little during the previous five years. Many of his canvasses combine a looming foreground figure with a deep perspective and an equally significant background figure. The foreground and background figures are skilfully combined and the perspective is occasionally distorted in order to emphasise a certain characteristic (e.g. the timidity of Emile Schuffenecker in the Schuffenecker family).
“Tahitian Landscape” is one of the few pictures in which Gauguin dispenses with a foreground motif and focuses entirely on the background. Having resisted the temptation to follow his normal pattern of composition, he becomes even more reliant on his other trademarks such as the use of intense and unnatural colour to create a rhythmic unity and the combination of abstract and realist forms.
The result is a superbly atmospheric painting with a beautiful pattern of intense colours. The picture retains a certain tension appropriate to the primitive natural world through its combination of realist and abstract forms. Whereas the palm trees, the clouds and the distant peak are clearly recognisable as such, the foothills and the other trees are merely suggested. He also creates a harsh contrast between the various elements of the composition by applying an incorrect perspective to the palm trees. This heightens the tension of the picture and draws the viewer’s eye across the canvass towards the distant mountain peak.
Although Gauguin is experimenting with a different style of composition he remains obsessed with his favourite theme: the unity of man with nature. The barely perceptible traveller, who wearily balances a heavy load on his shoulders, is merged into the vastness of nature. His dog assumes an equal if not greater significance. The clossionist division of the painting into simplified blocks of colour implies a natural order where everything has its place. Man is an insignificant and temporary presence in a monumental landscape.
Image Source: The Yorck Project