I have a macabre fascination with artists who have committed suicide. One, because I love art and the creative process and two, because I have family history of suicides and suicide ideation. In my quest to understand the mind of a person who desires nothing more than to be absent from the present, I have read and reread countless books. Recently, a van Gogh painting was advertised as being on display at the IMA and I knew immediately that I needed to make that a summer destination. This past Saturday my dream came true. I stood before van Gogh’s Landscape at Saint-Remy, 1889, and was blown away by the amount of paint, the number of brush strokes, the myriad of colors and the sheer fortitude he showed in completing a true masterpiece. His painting was by far my favorite of all the works seen, including Gaugahn, Pissarro, Monet and Rembrandt.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”
–Vincent van Gogh
Volunteering at a homeless shelter I come across so many with those same sentiments. There is a little van Gogh in each of us.