If I were either a better person or a worse one, I would have enjoyed it more...

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/02/25 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/02/25/10272858.aspx

I just left SAM REMIX, and the Gauguin exhibit.

Disclaimer #1: The only genuine knowledge I have of art is what I gained from a brief period in my early 20's where I dated several (okay, three) women who had art history majors in college; all of the rest just came from gong to art exhibits and shows and auctions, and developing my own tastes for what I liked.

Disclaimer #2: I intentionally signed up to go to the galleries at a relatively late time (10:20pm):

My 10:20 ticket to the Gauguin and Polynesia exhibit

I did this primarily because Diane (one of those art history majors I dated 20 years ago) and Jen Graves (whose controversial You May Be Infected Already review of Gauguin & Polynesia:An Elusive Paradise reassured me two decades too late that Diane's negative feelings about Gauguin were probably not merely the "overreacting art major" that I took it for at the time), and their thoughts about Paul Gauguin and his life.

I wanted to be in a certain state of mind by the time I was going to be viewing this unique collection of Gauguin's work.

If I was going to view te art and have hope of being able to enjoy the art while ignoring the artist's execesses (former stockbroker who left his wife and five children to bang, impregnate, and give syphillis to 13 year olds that he was), I decided I was going to need to be pretty drunk.

Perhaps readers will feel this was not terribly logical, and that perhaps I let my guilt over dumping Diane for being so intense color by views.

The fact that it didn't work may in fact bolster this opinion.

As I rolled through the exhibit and saw so many pictures less decent than this one:

A fairly mild Gauguin piece but still no eye contact

yet still sharing many of the same issues of less savory and less dressed young girls -- young women who don't make eye contact, a choice that felt to me like him and his guilt.

Or maybe they couldn't look at him, even when they married him (every 13 year old girl's dream).

And maybe he was just painting what he was seeing in his twisted, racist, and disgusting and misogynistic world view.

I couldn't enjoy it.

I was twelve mai tais in by 10:20 (I freely admit many people there were enabling me),but within minutes of experiencing so much of Gauguin I felt completely sober.

It was too late to save them, yes.

But suddenly I felt re-energized to think about fighting human trafficking. To go after the people who are inspired about exploiting worlds they find more primitive then their own, one under-aged girl at a time.

When I was through the exhibit, I tried to go back to the party.

The DJ was playing half songs -- and finally, not long after Tequila and Let's Hear It For the Boy and PYT, I realized I was done.

Before 10:20 I had met an attractive young doctor who was finishing her internship and planning for her residency. We spnt some time talking and really connected, and we probably would have ended up seeing each other in the future. But after I was too distracted to even look for her (perhaps even uncomfortable about seeking out a younger woman after all that even though she is 28), and now that it is all over I realize I probably won't ever see her again.

I can't help feelng that if I were a better person (who could look past the artist and appreciate the art) or a worse person (who wouldn't feel so uncomfortable about his immersion into the primitive), that I would have enjoyed it more....

Alex Cohn on 2 Mar 2012 1:16 PM:

Thanks for sharing the link and the emotions.

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