There’s been some fascinating comments on this blog in response to Nevermore O Tahiti and its potential meanings. Reading the comments through I was reminded of an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902) with you know who on the front cover.
It’s a detail from Self-portrait with portrait of Bernard (Les Misérables) from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It was painted in 1888, so well before Gauguin’s first journey to Tahiti, but after his trip to Panama and Martinique in 1887. Van Gogh, who saw the painting, thought the shadows on Gauguin’s face made him look despondent. Funny how that sense of melancholy seems to evaporate when juxtaposed with a title like Heart of Darkness - especially if you have even an inkling of what Conrad’s novella is about. What do you think?