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Starry Night

Aquamarine blues, golden yellows, an already beautiful scene made all the more enchanting seen through the eyes of Van Gogh. It’s hard to deny that he perceived the world differently, desperately trying to translate the swirling colours of the natural world into art. He suffered for his sensitivity, life was difficult, un-manageable and often times unbearable. Totally un-appreciated in his time, millions now flock to his paintings in the most prestigious galleries and yet it’s hard to imagine the concept of legacy would make up for the years of solitude and misery. At the same time, it’s hard to deny that amidst all the heartache that Van Gogh lived through, he at points appeared to be experiencing a mystical beauty that transcended the average experience of the world. It’s easy to romanticise mental illness and see it as an inevitable trade off for artistic inspiration. I’m not sure this needs to be true, for every Bukowski who manages to live a long life of hedonism and creativity, there are those who die tragically young trying to live up to the role of tortured artist. But having said that there do seem to be certain souls who are destined to swing between the heaven and hell realms, and this intensity of experience seems to lead to a unique viewpoint of the world. Van Gogh was not afraid to suffer. In his early life he became an evangelist missionary, posted to a mining town in Belgium. Van Gogh believed in the Gospels so whole-heartedly that he left the comfortable living quarters he was given and moved into a shack with a straw mattress. He would give away his food and money to the needy and lived the self-sacrificing life propounded by Jesus. Intimidated by his commitment to spiritual selflessness he was removed from his position by his superiors. It seems interesting to me that whenever figures emerge who truly live up to the dictates of Christ that the church and society as a whole feel shamed by their own addictions to comfort and hierarchy and cast out those who are true manifestations of selfless charity. This commitment to complete sacrifice of self, continued through Van Gogh’s art. Every area of his personal life suffered in pursuit of artistic vision and in this respect he was an absolute success, he created art of other worldly beauty. However, in his personal life he continued to feel like a stranger in the world, rejected by love and society as a whole. We now understand the genius of Van Gogh, we can see through his impulsive acts of despair and understand the struggle of a sensitive and vulnerable soul trying to create and live in a world that didn’t prioritise the same things. I wonder how many similar characters live now, people that we dismiss as crazy or unstable but who future generations will look back on with awe as being greatly misunderstood in their time. I think perhaps if we were able to look at every person with this level of compassion and openness we would live in a much happier world. Who knows maybe if Van Gogh himself had found more understanding and acceptance in his own time he could have lived a longer and less tumultuous life. “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” ― Vincent van Gogh

#vangogh #starrynight #pietersite #art #mentalhealth

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