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The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

Story by Dale R. Kinnie

Nothing could be more exciting and surreal for an artist to visit an area of the world where his favorite artist has lived and worked. In the fall of 2016 I had the great fortune to travel the south of France for a period of time. Most of us already know the Van Gogh life story, but actually walking in his past foot steps conjured up an emotional response for which I was not prepared.

Upon first entering the grounds of Saint Paul de Mausole in St. Remy France, a creepy vibe entered my realm that was unmistakably Vincent. This vibe immediately flooded my memory with all things Vincent, from his documented struggles outwardly and inwardly to an eerie chill ascending my spine.

The very simplified Chapel was my first building entered where one wondered how many times Vincent darkened it’s door for counsel, relief or just solitude. As you walk through the hallways inside next to the beautifully flowered Cloisters, visions of Vincent seeking perhaps a new painting subject are bouncing off the walls. An upstairs walk to his bedroom which he occupied for over a year has the walls adorned with copies of paintings rendered during his stay.

My early October arrival meant the lavender and irises were long gone after season which deadened the whole garden area. How did Vincent see this deadening? Did it make him more depressed or did he just see another season end? His upstairs bedroom was very small and spartan with one window overlooking the back grounds. While looking out upon the back garden contemplating the moment where he painted from that window so long ago, the anguish of his life situation was palpable.

The Vincent Vibe

This tormented man’s life so exposed broke me down where I momentarily wept. He’s been gone over a hundred years, so how could I feel his anguish in this moment? Even the statue on the grounds of Vincent holding sunflowers has the look of a beaten man. Knowing his art, his letters, and his life journey had combined to break me down to the point of always shedding a silent tear wherever I have seen his art.

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

The Vincent Vibe

It’s astounding to even think how Vincent produced over one hundred paintings and as many drawings during his year long self confinement in the asylum with limited supplies and so much dependence on his brother Theo. Vincent’s lifetime output of approximately nine hundred paintings and a thousand drawings was certainly prolific enough to assume he experienced some lucid moments, so how could this complex man cope with allegedly selling only one painting during his lifetime?

The lows and limited highs he experienced would be enough to derail the sanest person. Artists have ended their lives for reasons known and unknown over the course of time, but I’m not buying the popular version of Vincent’s demise by a self inflicted gunshot. How does one so well known for his instability in his surroundings obtain a fire arm? I cannot speculate on what really happened, but surely know the arts community is indebted to Mr. Van Gogh for his contributions.

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