The spirit of the dead does not sleep - Paul Gauguin. Oil on Canvas, 72,4х215; 92.4 cm
The idea of the canvas “The spirit of the dead does not sleep” was born by Gauguin under the influence of a usual family history, which the receptive artist gave the unique flair of mysticism and reflected in the picture.
Arriving in Tahiti, Gauguin readily began to get acquainted with the local mythology, which was greatly facilitated by his young wife Tehura. One of the customs of the local people was not to turn off the lights at night - an oil lamp illuminated the hut all night. This action was designed to protect the Polynesian home from the Tupapau demons.
In the hut of Gauguin and Tehura at night, light also always burned. But once, dozing Tehura did not notice how all the oil in the lamp burned out, and the room plunged into darkness. At this time, the painter was only returning home from Papeete, the capital of Polynesia. Entering the dark hut, Gauguin noisily struck a match, waking his wife. The bright light of the flame caught the artist’s face, distorted by shadows, frightening to death the superstitious Tehura, who took her husband for a cast.
Thus was born the painting Manao tupapau - "Faith and Bringing." The demon in the picture is expressed quite schematically, according to local ideas - this is an ominous old woman with burning eyes.
The picture is filled with an ominous mood, which is only enhanced by the color patterns, which added to the plot Gauguin, adherent of decorativeness in painting.
A lover of double meaning, Gauguin himself proposed to interpret the picture in different ways: either Tehura thinks about the demon, or the demon tirelessly pursues Tehura.