Above the faux fireplace in our living room, in the house I grew up in, hangs a large reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s, ‘Wheatfield with crows’. Day and night, those fields glowed, and glow still. They glow and rustle their way into our hearts and consciousness.
There was also a Degas, a Toulouse-Lautrec, a Renoir…all reproductions of course, but, what a feast for the eyes! Every single day! And what a gift to receive from one’s father! An introduction to all these giants of the art world. And also, of literature. W. Somerset Maugham, A. J. Cronin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Orwell, James Herriot, Irving Stone…to name a few…
He introduced me to art and literature (for that, among many many many other things, I will be eternally ETERNALLY grateful to him). It was he who handed me a copy of ‘Lust for Life’ by Irving Stone. Oh dear Lord, I simply devoured those pages! I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with it. And with, Monsieur Van Gogh.
He burned through those pages, all fiery and alive, just like the paint on his canvases. Bold, vibrant, saturated, and trembling with vitality.
What a man! What a soul! To live with such burning desire, with such a tempest in one’s soul. To perceive the sun melting into the earth and the earth rising through the feet and the body of the peasant that tilled the soil. To see it all as one fiery, pulsing mesh, everything a part of it and it a part of everything else. Alive! Alive! And to pour all that wisdom onto the canvas in a mad frenzy, like one possessed. He laid bare the soul of the Universe through his brush strokes. What a prayer, no? What a gift to leave behind for all of humanity. If only we could all see the world through his eyes. What an infinitely better place it would be.
I just finished reading that book again. There is such anguish in my heart, such love, and compassion, such a welling of profound gratitude for this man, this soul, this immortal.
This world is a blessed place for having a Vincent Van Gogh in it.