Sunday, October 24, 2010

Visiting Vincent

Ever since arriving in France I have found myself assuming that everyone knows (and has visited) Auvers sur Oise, a small town 30km north of Paris. As it turns out, very few know of this place, but then again, only a handful of people have had the privilege of taking photography classes from Pat Bognar at the University of Portland. It was during those classes, that she instilled in her students passion for photography and Vincent van Gogh. And in doing so she created a special place in my mind's eye for the artist and the town of Auvers sur Oise.
-I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.-
Vincent van Gogh
Back in 1890 it was a world away from Paris and full of natural beauty, rich with picturesque scenes of rural life in France. And because of this (and to be closer to his doctor) Van Gogh spent the last few months of his life living in the small attic room of L' Auberge Ravoux, in Auvers sur Oise away from the stresses of living in Paris. He was not alone in admiring the landscape, other painters including, Paul Cezanne, Charles Daubigny, Camille Pissarro, and Corot had visited Auvers sur Oise during the 19th century.

-I see drawings and pictures in the poorest of huts and the dirtiest of corners.-
Vincent van Gogh
Arriving in May (1890) van Gogh woke before dawn, set out across the village and was often gone until dusk, painting over 70 canvasses during the few months he lived there, more than one a day. The small hotel where he rented a room now serves as a tribute to his life.

-As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.-
Vincent van Gogh
So it was a week or so ago I found myself walking up the narrow staircase to his room. Standing in his empty room filled me with thoughts about his time here, where he was filled with tremendous joy and insurmountable sadness, surrounded by a collection of canvasses and chronic despair that defined the last few months of van Gogh's life.
-The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.-
Vincent van Gogh
On the hill over looking the town of Auvers sur Oise Vincent van Gogh rests next to his beloved brother Theo. A drizzle of rain accompanies me as I leave the cemetery, but not even the dull gray clouds can prevent my mind's eye from seeing the rich, vibrant colors, the thick brush strokes spread over his canvasses, alive for the world to admire, alive with the genius that is van Gogh.
-I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.-
Vincent van Gogh

1 comment:

Pat Bognar said...

You went back and got into the maison van gogh, thank god, and saw his room! incroyable, non? thanks, brad, it's like going back myself, almost. thank you for your intense interest in so many wonderful things and ideas! i just got your postcard and love it! we've just had a week off, fall break, so i got my mail late. the words are inspiringly original. thank you for everything!

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