Sue Hubbard reviews the Gauguin exhibit at the Tate Modern:
The thinking that drove Gauguin to Tahiti, that lead Joseph Conrad to write about the Congo and D. H. Lawrence to become fascinated with Mexico was the same. The development of the idea of the Orient’ as an unspecified local, an imaginative space fed by explorers’ tales and the visions of poets and artists, fitted very much with the mood of the late 19th century.
Such exotic’ locations stood in opposition to the restrictions and repressions of bourgeois (largely white) western society. Here the real and the imaginary, the civilised and the primitive could be woven together into a construct where erotic drives and sexual impulses, normally buried beneath a veneer of civilised behaviour, could be legitimised. ... What Gauguin really discovered was that his study of the primitive’ brought him back to himself and that by defining what was other’ he could begin to unpick who he really was.
(Image from Wikipedia)