Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vincent Van Gogh: yellow on yellow on yellow...

Dear Vincent,

If you were alive today, you would be a blogger.

Last month, I saw your art
hung in the museum
built by your nephew-- your namesake--
in Amsterdam.

An urge to write--standing here surrounded by your art--grabs me.
I have no paper nor pencil nor pen.
I use my phone to type out lines,
holding it like a trombone.
My eyes give away my years; not that anyone is looking!

BTW, absolutely love the almond blossoms-
can't take my eyes off.
Have goosebumps when the audio guide mentions you painted it as a present for the new baby's parents, your brother Theo and his wife Johanna, to be hung in their bedroom.
Later in the museum shop, I'll buy the poster and start dreaming up plans to create my space around it.
Let's hope I actually get to it.

Dreaming comes easily; the doing takes effort and commitment.

Oh! I'm using your words in this letter as quotes--hope you won't mind.

LOVE the blue lines on the branches-- really cool.
Spring: the eternal symbol of new beginnings.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago, you painted your last picture.
Looking at your cypress trees and wheat fields,
it feels like a little bit of you is in each one of your paintings.
I can't decide if you painted the cypresses or the space they occupy;
the leaves on the tall swirling frames,
or the air they breathe.

Photo courtesy: Google Images.
 Image result for copy of van gogh paintings

The cawing crows look like blobs of your beating heart splattered on the canvas.
Yes, nod I, when I hear you say...

"You will certainly see that I have my own way of looking."

Feet firmly planted in a mishmash of heads, I spot
the lady guard watching us watching the sunflowers.
Only difference is that while her attention is heightened to stop anyone from clicking,
mine is lost in the yellow on yellow on yellow.

The idea that you hung the sunflowers
to welcome Gauguin to the Yellow House bowls me over.
A man interested in home decor?
I would follow your blog, if you were alive today.

I have to say though, it's not my favourite.
The heaviness of the flower heads makes me uneasy.
I can feel them
depressing me down.

Sunflowers are my grandfather's twinkling smile.
He grew them in his garden and let me take one to my teacher when I was little.
The hairy prickles on its thick stem itched my hands.
The flower nodded to the rhythm of my gait as I walked
to school:
happy, strong and carefree.

I linger a bit longer;
that's what you're supposed to do when you come face to face with a masterpiece, I suppose.
The lady guard's hawk eyes follow.
She moves her largish frame like a panther.
And glares down fingers from reaching for phones/cameras.

Heads and shoulders ebb and flow.
Headphones blab about the grains of sand embedded in these waves--
imprisoned by your palette knife.
When you become ancient history,
future generations will look at the grains
and unwrap the mummified mystery of your strokes.

I smile and climb the stairs to the next floor.
Vincent van Gogh, Fishing boats at sea, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh, Fishing boats at sea, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Cameras are allowed here, so I click a shot of your sketchbook...

Spotted this on the way to the museum -
harbinger of yellow.
Thought you might like it.

"Even in the city, Van Gogh is looking for nature." 
the audio guide tells me. I nod.

"I couldn't care what the colours are in reality."
continues the voice. I nod again.

Four hours later, I step out holding my poster wrapped in sunflowers and all I can see is yellow with a smidgen of red.

Click. Click. Shoot.

Your art and words seep in.

Streets of Amsterdam--for you...

Hare Krishna:)

This is too tempting not to capture. 
I use frowny overlays to keep things anonymous.

Bring this puffin home. It's been sculpted--paper on paper on paper by Judith.
She's on
Her art is as cheerful as she looks in this picture:)

Every night, the sky paints a different picture.
 "Love always causes trouble- that's true, 
but in its favour it energises."

 "The sight of the stars always makes me dream- 
in a simpler way as the black spots on the map representing towns and villages make me dream."

Later that night, I pick up a book to read in the apartment which is stuffed full of books.
'An eye-opening Art' is the page I open.
I'm hooked.
I read about your days in Arles, in the asylum and the author's trip to the olive grove.
I add the title to my book list.

I want to thank you Vincent for your art. 
You painted when you were sick. 
You painted when you were happy.  
You painted self- portraits to practise.
You painted despite the critics.
Your paintings didn't sell and still you painted.
You painted what you saw with your own way of looking.
You painted. 

So if I ever wonder why,
I will think of you
and your art
and get back to work.

Doing is us.
Doing it well.
Doing it often.
Doing it without expectation.
Doing it coz it makes us happy.

Whatever that doing may be:
writing, parenting, loving, singing, walking, cooking, gardening or

Thank you.

Dear readers,
All I can say is that the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is unmissable. DO BUY your tickets online. No point in wasting all that time waiting to get in when you could be drinking in all that art.

Here's an article about the sunflowers--in case you're interested.

Enjoy your weekend:)