Vincent and Me

18 Jul

portrait-vincent_van_gogh.jpg


I am preparing an essay on Vincent Van Gogh’s humanity. Why Vincent Van Gogh?

Van Gogh has never ceased to mesmerize the art world, since his genius was recognized more than a decade after he took his life. Neither has he ever ceased to mesmerize me. My longest and most magnetic love affair has been with Vincent Van Gogh – one that has waxed and waned for over two decades.

I ignored my friends’ chiding to trade my elusive search for Van Gogh, for a real boyfriend. My mother, fretted over my singlehood. None of them understood that for me, Vincent was very much alive – breathing through his paintings, and his letters.

I wandered the hills surrounding my home, trying to perceive reality as Vincent. Coal miners, and potato eaters crawled out of the land. They scurried over the hills, digging the earth, black and dusty, living harsh lives. My hills became Vincent’s hills in the Borinage, where he lived, sketched, and did humanitarian work to the point of near death. I watched my skies flare-up in fuchsias and oranges, before descending the hills with the dusty coal miners, and the black ashes of the night.

Age, and its ensuing realism, loosened Vincent’s stranglehold on me. A decade after I had met Vincent, I reluctantly surrendered to the sweet innocence of the man who became my husband, and nearly an anti-thesis of my Vincent. Newer pursuits proliferated my life with the same fervor that Van Gogh injected into his paintings – paintings, which now proliferate the world as magnets, umbrellas, scarves, jigsaw puzzles, coasters, mouse pads, ties, and cheap art materials. The man, who I had zealously pursued in books and museums, faded from my life.

I was recently diagnosed with an uncommon strain of bipolar disorder, and warned about the potentially lethal consequence of getting off my medication. Stunned, and stumbling over the shards of the world I had carefully planned to live in, my thoughts flew frantically to Vincent Van Gogh. Like lightning splitting the stormy darkness of my mind, he crackled back into my life.

I had met him when I was thirteen. I don’t remember if my teenage passion for art led me to Vincent, or if Vincent had sparked my passion for art. What I do remember very well is that I had stumbled across him, while perusing a book on impressionism. It was electric. My fingers sprang apart, and my body hairs stood on end. The flaming red hair, and the intense blue eyes seared my soul. I, instantly, and madly, fell in love with Vincent Van Gogh.

I looked for him – his simplicity, his wonder, his humility, his humanity, and his clear vision – everywhere. Despite his dishevelled appearance, and dirty, broken, missing teeth, Vincent will remain the most beautiful human in my life.

Now he is back, as is my love of him – in movies, letters, and my projects around him – ones I ought to focus on instead of blogging!

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2 Responses to “Vincent and Me”

  1. anindita kali July 23, 2007 at 1:01 am #

    its amazing that child hood friends come to know about detials of one friend much later . The magnitude of much later is actually 20 years .
    U were fascninated by Vincet van gogh. but that u were madly in love with him is a revelation.
    But thanks to your blog and essyas i look forward to more such beautiful pieces and paintings of van gogh .
    is uour hom,e ” home ” to rare peices of van goghs art?

  2. tutul April 24, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    jhumki, there were tears in my as i read this. as it is i have been of late (what telepathy) what has happened to you all.
    recently i read in a wonderful novel by Byatt, Van Gogh couldn’t have been a nice person to spend one’s time with. Strange how our perceptions are colored by legends. but his art is indeed great!

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