I visited the Van Gogh museum here in Amsterdam last month for the first time. It’s kind of a shame for living here over a year already and not having visited until now. And also despite the fact that this dutch man is one of my favorite artists. Vincent Van Gogh is among the people I’d love to spend some quality time with and talk. He was such a real person. Vincent never stopped inspiring me and I discovered that walking through the museum. I’ll tell you why.
He stayed true to his passion – Art
It was not rich people who he painted. Not palaces, not the minority. He went for the majority, which were people who couldn’t afford everything or were even poorer. And I’m convinced it was not just because he could relate to them. It’s his own words when he said that he enjoys painting “peasant life” as it is those people that find happiness and joy in the small things. Vincent loved painting nature as he saw so much in it: “Sometimes I long so much to do landscape, just as one would for a long walk to refresh oneself, and in all of nature, in trees for instance, I see expression and a soul, as it were.” His passion was so great.
He saw the world with different eyes
You are able to listen to some of Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo and friends in which you can easily take out how excited he could get about things. Of course, mostly it was connected to art. But what else would you expect of an artist? Van Gogh would write so passionately about how he saw his surrounding and society. Spending a time in a big city such as Paris made him learn much about people who “fit in” society and he himself didn’t – but it seemed he never aimed to. He was more excited about what people didn’t see as very striking anymore. Like the landscapes and “little” things.
He didn’t see borders, he saw bridges
I remember reading about him being with a woman for a while who was actually a woman who sold her body. He saw nothing wrong or strange in being with her/loving her. I know not everyone thinks like that, but I, personally, think that we are so limited in our view about prostitutes and as soon as we know where they work, our minds can be so focused on what they sell, that they sell their body. So many let their minds limit their view. Vincent didn’t.
He also loved to dream about things that others deemed “impossible”. Van Gogh was the kind of person who would ask “Why not?” rather than “Why?”. The kind of person who would say “I believe you” rather than “How can you think of something so silly?”. And he would, because the only real person who actually believe in him was his brother. I may be wrong, okay, because there’s also his parents. But he had such a strong unique relationship with his brother, it’s so deep and intense.
This man, this artist, whose life ended in such beautiful tragedy, has left a big amount of inspiration that I enjoy exploring and making my own. And at this point, I’d like to quote the series Dr. Who with its episode about Vincent.
The Doctor: I just wondered, between you and me—in a hundred words—where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?
Dr. Black: Well. Um, big question, um, but to me, Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular great painter of all time. The most beloved. His command of color, the most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world. No one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange wild man who roamed the fields of Provence, was not only the world’s greatest artist but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.
It makes me sad thinking that no one else besides Theo Van Gogh, Vincent’s brother, has ever told him how amazing he was. If I could choose 10 people (living or dying), that I would like to talk to over a coffee, tea or drink, Vincent Van Gogh would be among them. He had a sensitive heart that was tuned in to nature, people’s souls, art. A heart that he decided to stop but lives on in his paintings and letters.