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The Poplars at Saint-Remy

January 9, 2013
Well, the truth is, we can only make our pictures speak. But yet, my dear brother, there is this that I have always told you, and I repeat it once more with all the earnestness that can be expressed by the effort of a mind diligently fixed on trying to do as well as possible – I tell you again that I shall always consider you to be something more than a simple dealer in Corots, that through my meditation you have your part in the actual production of some canvases, which will retain their calm even in the catastrophe.
For this is what we have got to, and this is all or at least the main thing that I have to tell you at a moment of comparative crisis. At a moment when things are very strained between dealers in pictures of dead artists, and living artists.

Well, my own work, I am risking my life for it and my reason has half foundered because of it – that’s all right – but you are not among the dealers in men as far as I know, and you can still choose your side, I think, acting with humanity, but que veux-tu?

-the last three paragraphs of a letter found on the body of Vincent van Gogh. (Van Gogh: a Self Portrait / Letters Revealing His Life as a Painter. Selected by W. H. Auden. Tesoro Books)

To skip past the incidentals on Vincent’s life, and to get into the heartmind of his work, we are left with a boundless expanse of property that parallels time like seasons bear their fruit. It’s a synonymous juncture, nothing less. If any one embodied Spirit in the arts, Vincent did. Did he sell a painting while his crusty hands bit the canvas?  800 paintings … we are told … 800 foretellings of Life. 800 glimpses of texture embracing color embracing light embracing movement embracing spiritual reality. 800 spirit-born expressions of love packed into a mere 37 years … and only one painting sold? Prophetic. And so we dialogue with you, our dear visionaries, on what is is to be of Spirrealism, abiding in two intertwining paths of faith, truth and beauty, paralleling the mystical and the prophetic, cataclysmic in the earth breech, an angelic self-expressive quest, monumentally symbolic, driven in Christ Essence, and the inner sanctuary – the voice, of our soul.  
When Vincent painted, he didn’t just give us a rhythmic, and sometimes, stirring, view of his subjects, those you see in that familiar textural stroke, a stroke that never leaves you feeling untouched by its gifted and energetic appeal; he gave us the inner landscape. We weren’t treated to a beautiful and antiquated rendition of how he might see a tree, or a sky, or a shoe, or a child; he drew out the essence of the human spirit. For each subject, whether living or nonliving, was held complex, in an integrated way. The life force of his third eye, that hegemonikon of the soul, wove its yarn continuous, as his need to paint and draw was continuous, gathering momentum like a great sea at the rise of a storm. He was purist in his approach. The spiritual experience in this endeavor was virginal, supremely charismatic in the innocence of a love of the dialogue with the work, which truly, was more a mission, for his need to engage was instrumental to his life purpose. He had to engage, but even more was his desire to marry the outer with the inner, and make the paintings speak from this platform, more highly and vigorously charged. His was a calling out from the depths, a well deep, and filled with the treasures on the mysteries of life as epic twin, coalescing in spirit personage.
In the painting The Poplars at Saint-Remy 1889, Vincent demonstrates two worlds – the outer and the inner. The material and the spiritual. The lower and the upper. All things outside rendered the landscape inside, and all things inside shared in this collectively. Despite what others believed, his communion in these two was not at odds, just as his behavior was not at odds with self, what would be his intent. He knew of his calling and he drew this out like a butterfly sucks nectar. The two poplars in the painting share the obvious … the house in the distance, smack at the middle is self, the minds eye, his heartmind. Even his sky sang water, as his water sang sky.  And in his choice of colors, the contrasts, complimented harmoniously, as nature often does when uninterrupted by man. In essence, his outer did not betray the inner. Vincent was a complex thinker with a simple heart. Know love. There is nothing mad in this portrait.

From → Spirrealism

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