My “Walk with Beauty” this week, took me on an adventure into the Immersive Experience, an event that has toured 65 countries already. It was a sensory extravaganza because of technology and of course Van Gogh’s paintings which were projected on to the walls of a church, rending a 360 degree virtual reality of the artist’s most compelling works. Like more traditional museum exhibits, it was also an insight into the painter himself and his life.
It might be a well-known fact that the artist cut off his ear in a fit of madness towards the end of his life. That would obviously indicate a tormented soul, which he was, because he had plunged into depression and was finally institutionalised. In the end, he shot himself in the chest at the age of 37.
In spite of his prolific output (2,100 art works in a decade, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life), he died penniless and was only posthumously recognised, as with so many other geniuses. The irony there is that two decades after his death, the sale of two paintings given by him to his sister helped pay her psychiatric medical expenses for many years!
What came as a surprise to me though is that he was colour blind. That is why his colours are so bold… because he saw them as much less brighter. His favourite colours were a deep Prussian blue/indigo, greens and yellows as can be seen in many of his famous paintings.
Doesn’t that make you think? It is not unusual that great minds who have a passion and an unstoppable proclivity towards their work, produce volumes in a short span of time. Maybe it is the nature of talent and the arts. Like for example Beethoven, who began to lose his hearing at 26, which curbed his performing and conducting, but did not slow down his considerable output as a composer.
These great artists, no doubt, are geniuses. Van Gogh wrote: “I am not an adventurer by choice; I am an adventurer by fate.” They are born to create.
But in a way so are we. Life is often compared to an empty canvas or a blank page of a book, for you to paint on or write your story. Wayne Dyer also made an analogy between life and music : “Don’t die with your music still in you.” We are meant to be the creators of our lives. And what if we mere mortals could take a leaf out of the lives of the masters and be an adventurer by choice at least? To create and live the life that we dream of, rising above our very often self-imposed limitations?
“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” Van Gogh