Paul Gauguin is my gateway painter. I first discovered him in the early-mid 1990s and bought my first copy of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, "The Moon and Sixpence", which fictionalizes the painter's life. It asks the important question: how much should we accept that the artist may be a horrible human being if he is a brilliant artist. And consideration of Gauguin, who liked his women a little too young, must factor his frailties and sins with his art.
But it was Gauguin who introduced me to primitivism and the notion of just getting away to just make art. My volcanos and nudes and cheeseburgers and deserts all have a spark of Gauguin in them. And for that I am grateful...taking all else in context.