The Color Yellow: The Yellow Christ

7:00 AM

Paul Gauguin, The Yellow Christ, 1889 
The Color Yellow
By MEGAN GANNON

He died. On July 2nd, 2005 in a hotel room in Omaha he died. I slept only a room away from him. To be awoken by the screams of my mother, “He’s not breathing. He’s not breathing” as she dialed 911. Almost eleven years later I can still picture the pain on her face. I’ve tried my best to forget that day. Forget how my little brother and I were ushered to a Burger King by my step-grandmother as if a cherry slushie could fix everything. 

A week later, I saw my brother for the last time.There’s something about a corpse, maybe it’s the stillness that you can’t quite explain. The feeling of watching their torso, thinking that you if you look hard enough you will see the rise and fall of their chest once more. I remember looking into his casket, seeing his hands placed artificially at his torso. I don’t remember his face, only his hands and my mom and my brothers and some man I still don’t recognize today. I get that same feeling of the mediocrity of death when I look at Gauguin’s Yellow Christ

In Yellow Christ, Gauguin captures the movement of a corpse. He focuses on the peacefulness of death. He juxtaposes that peace with business of the people around Christ, their inability to stand still. The stillness of death causes people to move in a hyperactive state out of the fear of slowing down. By placing Christ up against the countryside, Gauguin not only creates depth but alsodemonstrates death as fact of life, something that exists between the hills, hovering above the women as an afterthought - something so blatantly obvious that it drifts out of focus. 

Gauguin’s Christ, in its sickly yellow color, represents the gross decay of a body as it returns to the Earth. The body knows how to die, the mind on the other hand finds it incomprehensible. I was six almost seven still trying to figure how to tie my shoes when all of sudden I learned sometimes you wake up and someone you love is gone.

I don’t like to go to sleep. 

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