The words are those of painter Paul Gauguin, but the triumph of Gauguin's Shadow is that it's all Fred Curchack, too. In this astonishing, deeply stirring solo performance,Mr. Curchack embraces, becomes, repudiates and sanctifies the towering, deplorable Gauguin in a ritual of contradiction and reconciliation that also serves as an orgiastic immersion in the painter's
The text is taken from Gauguin's letters and published writings, with a few passages from his embittered wife and his friend and fellow artist Vincent Van Gogh, whose more tortured persona emerges movingly.
Mr. Curchack, dressed all in white, puts himself into the work like a simultaneously demonic and angelic force. Wrapped in a white sheet, he twirls while various Gauguin self-portraits are projected onto him in succession; the sense of the other soul's presence is overwhelming. Then there's a recurring image of the performer seen through video of advancing and receding ocean waves sparkling with sunlight. It's cosmically peaceful.
Every artist should see Gauguin's Shadow, as should anyone who loves an artist. Both will get a taste of what they're in for: envy or agony, or likely both; the thrill of creation and the self-doubt fostered by indifference and poverty.