Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Vincent Van Gogh and his Perception

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” 
- Vincent van Gogh

As far as I can recall, I enjoyed painting. However, I was often rather disappointed with my childhood paintings despite being told I did a wonderful job. The Idea was, I wanted to paint as accurate as a photograph, I admit I use to over react while I use to cry and throw tantrums after seeing the end product of my artistic excellence. No one suffered more agony than my Mum who took charge of the situation by explaining to me that it was a good painting. I would then compare my own five-year-old self's painting to my Mum's grand canvases and accuse her of not being honest to me. (Sorry Mum! ) Despite all those fits and tantrums, she would still console and comfort me. I think it is because of her encouragement that I never stopped trying and now I believe I can paint a decent picture. 

I still do not consider my paintings to be accurate. Speaking of accuracy in paintings will often bring in the name of one man, Vincent Van Gogh. His Pantings are not the carbon imprint of the scenery but a bright fascinating style painted with a vivid urgency. I and my mother, both of us admire the work of Vincent Van Gogh. One of the most magnificent artist of all times. His vibrant colour schemes and his strong grip on self-taught art is splendid. Today he is considered one of the best artists ever. He painted more than 2100 paintings in his lifetime of 37 years and sold just one. 

I being a Whovian I especially enjoyed the episode on Vincent Van Gogh. I think it was one of the best moment in television history when Van Gogh visits his own art at the museum. While watching the show I so wished someone could actually show him how his art is considered iconic after a century. I wonder if knowing this would have made his troubled life any easy. Van Gogh struggled with Mental health issues. Many experts try to diagnose him based on the available information about his sickness. It is difficult to conclude what exactly was the state of his psychological ailment, but it is undeniable that he was chronically depressed during his lifetime. Despite that, his passion towards the people he loved and his roughness towards the same, while he was irritated, was notable. His paintings and his colour selection speak for his psychic state at the time of painting. 

In this post, I do not intend to express how wretched and paralysing depression is, there is no doubt in that. However, there is another aspect of depression and mental health issues that I want of cast light on. In 1889, Vincent painted his most iconic painting the starry night from his asylum cell. He was admitted to the asylum after he had mutilated his own ear in a psychotic episode. In the starry night, Van Gogh had captured the motion of swirling clouds in the canvas. In 2004, many years later when the grasp of knowledge on turbulent flow (of swirling clouds and illuminating stars) had strengthened, the experts were fascinated by the way Vincent had so accurately depicted the motion in his painting. 

Furthur study on Van Gogh's painting's eddying motion effects revealed that the paintings from the stressful and psychotic times in his life had an absolute depiction of luminance in motion. The same was not found in his work of more peaceful times in his life. It is also said that the distortion in some of his works was the distortion he saw as an effect of his mental sufferings. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the way he perceived the world during the phase of his mental agitation was not same as the calmer times. No one depicts the fine line between eccentricities and insanity better than Van Gogh. A self-learned artist who viewed the world from a unique perspective.

Earnest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and many more noted creatives were reported to be depressed, I don't intend to romanticise depression in any way. I only want to bring into consideration the perspective of a depressed individual. Depression is a miserable condition but it affects an individual in a sensing level, that has created some of the most wonderful work of arts. Maybe the doomed state of mind gives access to a certain understanding of life and nature, that we do not stop to think over when we are mentally sound and at peace with our emotions.

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  1. Karnika, add me to your Van Gogh fan club! He is simply brilliant! I always marvel at his brilliance, what bold strokes and colors. Not romanticizing mental illnesses, I honestly think geniuses in various fields have a certain degree of eccentricity sometimes bordering on lunacy. Maybe you have to be insane to be that creative. Loved this post!
    @KalaRavi16 from

    1. Hi-Five #TeamVanGough! Agree Geniuses are often bordering on eccentricities.
      Glad you liked it. :)

  2. I remember you told me his story and I was so sad and I even cried when we were watching the series in which his story was featured. 😔

    And about your paintings- I am a big fan and will always be love them and have loved all your creative work since age zero 😍
    As you know before you even complete a painting it is already proclaimed by me ☺️

    1. Yup! I remember we watched that episode together! It was an emotional one in the end.
      I am so happy that you like what I paint. All my paintings are officially yours, indeed. I love the paintings you painted around 2010-2011, Hope to see some of your awesome stuff on canvas.

  3. Being Bi-Polar myself and a musician I often wondered if some of his best paintings were done during a manic state; I know when he was in the asylum he painted day in and day out and that was when he was more productive...