French society and culture has always had a fascination with the exotic, going back to the Chinoiserie of the rococo period, the Orientalist fascination with the harems and slave markets of the Middle East, and the Japonisme of the 19th century. One might even suspect that this trait could represent a certain vacuous element in French society.

In the aftermath of the recent Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, however, this outward-looking urge may now come into question. But if France should become a more inward-looking society, it can take solace from the fact that the country has always had a lot of its own inner richness, being a state composed of many unique sub-regions, each with its own local culture.

It is interesting to view the exhibition now on at the Shiodome Museum in this light. Titled "Gauguin and the Painters of Pont-Aven," the exhibition features the art of Paul Gauguin and related artists who lived and worked in the artistic colony of Pont-Aven, an idyllic town set in the beautiful countryside of Brittany.