A soft silvery gold announces the beautiful new morning and our morning walk. It’s a good long walk, along canals, over bridges, past tall thin buildings with long windows and quite often long thin bricks. My love tells me we are going to stop at Omelegg for breakfast on the way.
This is Netherlands first Omelettery apparently – everything eggy you can imagine. We spot the little red and white awning with wooden tables and chairs and head across the road. Inside feels very countryside barn with timber booths old industrial style lights, lanterns hanging on posts and a mural on the back wall of a farm scene. Little house garden and of course chickens! How cute!
The menu has so many options, what to have, what to have? The viking fisherman, the dutchie, the funky chicken????? We opt for one Gorgonzola Bacon omelette (also has onion, sundried tomato, chives and oregano) and one Billy Goat ( goats cheese, onion, broccoli, bell pepper, honey and thyme). Both come with a thick slab of brown bread. Delicious.
We have set our morning aside for visiting the Van Gogh Museum. After breakfast and a couple of good strong coffees we continue on to the Museum. I am so excited, there is so much that I find intriguing and fascinating about Van Gogh’s work. I am filled with such a buzzy energy knowing that we are about to be immersed in his story.
Possibly one of the most influential artists from The Netherlands, Vincent Van Gogh’s work transcends time, generations and geography. The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh; an incredible permanent collection, that shows in detail the development and progress of this esteemed artist as well providing the visitor with an insight into who Vincent Van Gogh really was.
AN INSPIRING AND TORTURED ARTIST, AN INCREDIBLE COLLECTION
Finally we find ourselves outside the museum, a modern building surrounded by green lawn and pretty trees. In through big glass doors the foyer of the museum is filled with shops, gifts printed with sunflowers and such, the quintessential Van Gogh Imagery turned into handbags aprons and pencil cases. I can’t help but wonder what he would think! Anyway I’m not here to buy a sunflower handbag and as we go up in the lift I gratefully leave the tourist festival behind.
Immediately when we enter the galleries Vincent’s energy is suddenly very present. It’s quite funny, not funny ha ha, funny strange. Like a buzzy continual dialog of energy as we walk past his works. We walked through his early works painted in the dutch style, tonally dark, dull muddy greys, technically exceptional drafting but somehow devoid of personality.
It was such a revolution as we moved to paintings crafted after his move to Paris. Suddenly light, colour! Tight technically constrained work gave way to excitingly loose daubed execution, but far more interesting composition. It felt like Vincent had moved from doing what he thought he should, to trusting himself more, and doing more of what the felt.
I loved the brighter colours and the simplicity of the brushwork. Your eye left to create the definition. So engaging as a viewer, I feel as though I am somehow actively participating in the formation of the work. And it felt like Vincent was somehow now saying I am a painter.
As we moved through the galleries we came to a section that really surprised me. Japanese art, printmaking, magazine covers, wow! I had never reealised how much of an influence Japanese art had on Vincent.
I have fallen in love with his interpretation of Japanese imagery. A gorgeous piece called “Oiran” is a mesmerising painting of a geisha. He was inspired by a Japanese magazine cover but my goodness his use of colour and the imagination in his composition, layering in a Japanese garden background is so lovely.
Another wonderful piece that tastes very much Japanese favoured is “the Sower”. The composition boldly structured, a tree trunk with only a few branches leans low over the crouched figure of the sower as he plants his seeds into a blue field under a wonderful bright greeny yellow sky and even brighter sun. I think one of the things I love so much about Van Gogh is that he doesn’t paint things as he sees them, there are no green skies. He paints them as he feels them and there is so much mood evoked in his works. “The Sower” feels calm, like a cool very early morning and without a single facial feature rendered I see hope and happy anticipation in this work. Hope as the little seeds fall from the sower’s hand and anticipation of the bounty to come. I have no idea what Vincent was thinking at the time but that’s just how I feel looking at his work today. Rather a metaphor!
I often find art gallery tours tiresome as a student of art history warbles on about what they presume were the artists thoughts and intentions behind the work as they interpret them from where they stand today. How do you know that? I think to myself. I know as an artist there are many times where the viewer’s reading of my work comes as a complete surprise to me. I think in a way that’s what art is. My role is allowing the work to come through me onto the canvas to create something that at some point will move someone else in a way that is just theirs, nothing at all to do with me.
Here though we get first hand information. It is a rare thing to have so much detail about an artist, from their own words available to us. Its is fascinating to have letters where Vincent has shared his innermost observations with his brother Theo. Such a rare insight into the mind of a creative. Some of the things he shares resonates strongly for me. He speaks of feeling colour. I have always thought I was weird because I feel colour, sometimes the feeling of a particular colour is the first inspiration of a work for me. Through the exchange of letters we get to see a deep brotherly love.
As we round the final corner and return to the stairs to leave for the day the final image that will stay in my mind for a very long time is what I think is the prettiest most feminine work I have seen of VanGogh’s. Blossoming Almond Tree was painted to honour the birth of Vincent’s brother Theo’s baby boy, whom they also named Vincent.
Baby Vincent’s tree is so beautiful. The background colour is one that I always feel strongly. To me it is a colour that evokes the deepest emotional sensitivity and creativity. I can see why it was chosen to celebrate the creation of new life. Mopping my glassy eyes we make our way out of the museum. We sit for a little while under the trees on the lawn outside and just meditate on everything we have just experienced. What a magical day! [PIC 3]