Thursday, May 30, 2013

Talking to Vincent: the choice is yours

Talking to Vincent at Anchor Bay. 12"×16" (30.5×40.6cm). Oil on linen panel. April 2013
Yesterday on Google+, I mentioned Shakespeare being my guide on the journey through paradise of art history, and felt a familiar tinge of self-mockery: who are you for Shakespeare to be your guide? Come off it... Virgil was Dante's guide, all right, but he was, you know, Dante; not some unknown non-entity of whom Virgil had never heard in his life. The same undercurrent of feelings accompanied naming this work, although it is, believe it or not, an absolutely honest title (who are you for Van Gogh to talk to you, etc. etc.). 

Picchetti winery barrels with Van Gogh's irises in the foreground.
16"×20". Oil on canvas panel. December 2011, available
And it was the same many years ago in Musee d'Orsay, when I felt, for the first time, as though Van Gogh's paintings were talking to me personally; not even talking, but connecting more directly, so that his pain and vision overwhelmed me, leaving in my mind almost nothing of my own. For some time, not even this ever-present self-mocking observer to tell me to come off it. But she was back soon enough, as persistent as ever...    

And yet, this is the magic of art: you can choose your guide(s), just as I can choose mine, and just as Dante could choose his. They are all here to guide us, no entrance exams, no competition for placement. And this will be the truth of your life, and your guide will show you exactly as much as you are ready and willing to see and learn. It will by no means be something akin to today's educational environment, designed to force-feed pre-packaged knowledge to passive pupils; rather, something from other times and places, when students worked hard to get sacred knowledge from reluctant and reserved masters, to earn their trust with integrity of continuous efforts. But they will give you all the answers you are prepared to hear, and show you all the paths you are willing to follow.         

The thing is, Virgil had indeed never heard of Dante in his life, but he was truly his guide through the dark forest. Just because Dante heard his call through the intervening centuries, and was ready to accept his personal message, nothing more, nothing less. It is enough, and the choice is yours.      
Post a Comment