"Paul Gauguin: Maker of Myth" focuses on narrative, self-mythologizing and other literary and psychological aspects of the post-impressionist master. The curators of the National Gallery exhibition have focused on recurring themes and visual elements that give Gauguin's art an underlying sense of narrative, even if his paintings and sculptures don't tell explicit stories. These are some of the basic visual icons that visitors to the exhibition will encounter.
Horse and rider
In two of the exhibition's most powerful, and enigmatic, paintings, figures of a horse and rider are seen through an open window. In one case, he is arriving; in the other, departing. Does he have a relation - benign or predatory - to the women depicted in these canvasses? Or does he depict a general sense of a journey, or a movement through time, connecting the stationary figures to a larger sense of time and destiny?