Friday, 26 May 2017

Bible (May)



'Still-life with open Bible, Candelestick and Novel', Nuenen, October 1887 

 Visiting Van Gogh, arriving before one of his icons, an opened Bible. In darkness light shines from its pages. Opened where a Bible usually opens halfway: Isaiah. One of his favourite Books, and why not? “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” An icon’s holy if it depicts holy persons, but he refused to depict biblical persons, seeing them all in living humans. An icon may be holy if it depicts holy things. The candle’s out. This Dutch Protestant Rembrandt-like preaches how “the light shines in darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it.” Zola’s ‘La Joie de Vivre’, a midrash.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Self-portrait (May)

'Self-portrait', 1887


Visiting Van Gogh. It’s quick impasto: this is the shape loneliness takes in the morning. It’s creases of white re-lined: this is the dread of time hurting, laughing, walking away, ending. It’s industrial strength colours wriggling from tubes: this is the proof no-one’s paying for a face like that. It’s the fleck and turn: his eyes checking every inch of light and darkness, those are brushstrokes that were his eyes, outstaring us all. It’s stroke stroke: the torrent of effect a garden hedge in May. It’s everything a photograph cannot do: this is a face free of every cameraman alive.


Window (May)

'Window in the Bataille Restaurant', 1887

Visiting Van Gogh, of no fixed address. We know which side of the glass he’s on. Not our side. The cream have invitations to the gallery opening. He’s outside in the cold. He will know not the right thing to say, or when to stop. Windows reflect a hunger, then he’s gone. He’s on the other side of the dealer’s spectacles. Something of his will be always beyond auction rooms and platitudes. May is not a lie. Big sponsors don’t want God, the language they speak is crowd numbers. Springtime is sunshine slight relief that draws him from his bolthole.