Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day 2018 / Working on a Mandala

You turn the tide on me each day and teach my eyes to see,
Just bein' next to you is a natural thing for me
And I could never let you go, no matter what goes on,
'Cause I love you more than ever now that the past is gone.

(lyrics from "Wedding Song," Bob Dylan, 1973)


Sabine said...

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a wonderful, wonderful place. On my last visist, we attended a "Starry, starry night" event which went on long after midnight.

But your images brought to mind a recent show I watched (on netflix) by the Australian stand-up Hannah Gadsby (Nanette). It really has nothing to do with stand-up comedy and Gasdby also is an art historian. If you cannot access netflix, you can read the transcript here:

Anyway, she talks about Van Gogh several times and I was very moved by it. She also talks about being gay and growing up and feeling lost and finding yourself. See how you like it.

am said...

Thank you for the link to the Hannah Gadsby's voice, Sabine. I am moved by her story.

"I don’t want to unite you with laughter or anger. I just needed my story heard, my story felt and understood by individuals with minds of their own. Because, like it or not, your story… is my story. And my story… is your story. I just don’t have the strength to take care of my story anymore. I don’t want my story defined by anger. All I can ask is just please help me take care of my story. Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent van Gogh had a brother who loved him. Through all the pain, he had a tether, a connection to the world. And that… is the focus of the story we need. Connection. Thank you." (Hannah Gadsby, from "Nanette")

"You want to know so much about his death, but what do you know of his life?" (from "Loving Vincent")

I wonder if Hannah Gadsby has seen "Loving Vincent." When I first heard about it, I had no interest in watching it, suspecting that it would trivialize him and his paintings, but a friend recommended it for the visual experience rather than the storyline involving controversy about the circumstances of his death. The movie made it clear that the loving connection between Vincent and his brother Theo sustained them both, that Vincent had periods of clarity and happiness despite mental illness.

When I was in my early 30s and read Vincent's letters to his brother, Theo, I identified closely with Vincent. I wanted to paint in what I perceived as the loving spirit in which he painted but not kill myself. While watching the movie, I thought often of my R who was an artist who identified with Vincent and who bought us tickets to see his paintings that were on tour in San Francisco the month he returned from Vietnam. Despite mental illness, R had a strong connection with the beauty of the world. R painted in the last months of his life, while living in the VA hospital. I hoped to be the love that connected R to the world. The images of the Vincent as a small boy in "Loving Vincent" were a piercing reminder of how R looked when he was a boy.

Just recently I read a book called Van Gogh's Ghost Paintings which takes a long look at his uneasy relationship with conventional Christianity:'s%20ghost%20paintings&f=false

"Let us work with our heart and love what we love" (Vincent van Gogh)

He signed all his letters with some variation of "Your loving Vincent."

37paddington said...

Some people have an eternal life inside us. We carry them everywhere even after they are gone. Thank you for your thoughts on Loving Vincent. I think I will watch it after all. Like you I wasn’t sure, but now I’m open.

beth coyote said...

I remember seeing Starry Night in a museum in New York when I was a teenager. I recall thinking how small a painting it was, much like Georgia O'Keefe's paintings. I think that's what it means to be larger than life, the image in my mind is of sunflowers ten feet tall.