When you think of Christmas Eve, someone comes to mind. Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear on Christmas Eve 1888. Van Gogh's such a tragic story is as famous as his paintings. It is often cited to describe a crazy obsession and passion for the arts. It is also a long-standing story that he had a mental illness. Strangely He cut off his ear and bandaged it, leaving the self-portrait of himself. Not many people know the motive and story behind why Gogh took such an extreme action on Christmas Eve. The most likely theory is that it may have been the result of anxiety and worries over the reducing a financial support that came from his younger brother, Theo. Around that the, Theo got a first baby and then probably had to focus on his baby. Another reason is that it may have been because of feelings of sadness and betrayal towards Gauguin, a friend who has cultivated friendship and the world of art while living together as an artist. But neither is a clear answer. I think that perhaps because of these mysterious actions, his bright yellow color, which represents his art world, is imprinted more intensely.
Christmas Eve and Vincent van Gogh.
Once I encountered his paintings at the Kunsthaus in Switzerland. Among his works that can be easily found in each famous art museum, "The wheat field with cypress" at the Kunsthaus in Zurich shocked me. I knew then that a painting could look like a sculpture. The dried grains of paint sparkled three-dimensionally and looked moist as if they were drenched in water. Cyprus and the fluttering brushstrokes of the wheat field perfectly match the angles of these sparkling paints, making the painting glitter like a jewel from any angle. I was astonished that I could paint such a shiny and bright picture only with the dry angle of the paint. And the shimmering brush strokes and colors made the iridescent feel as if they were alive, not just text.
Why would a person who could draw such a shiny and bright picture make such a gloomy decision? Why was he so obsessed with art and painting abnormally?
I was taught in art class that he was poor extremely and lived his life unfortunately. But in other point, it was somehow exaggerated. His brother and supporter, Theo was an art dealer, so if Gogh gave him proper painting to fit trendy art, he could have made a living by painting in a way. But standing his side and thinking to Theo, his brother, Gogh must have been a trouble maker. It would be the most heartbreaking thing for Gogh to cut off his ear and take his own life despite receiving support from Theo.
That he was a good and kind man is also covered in several anecdotes. When I look at his paintings, there is always something that moves warmly. I love the socially underprivileged, and there are many paintings I drew for them. They usually sit in a dark room with a light on, eating bread, working in the field, or smoking a cigarette. His paintings are so friendly and cozy. It's hard to believe that it was a decision made by a person with such a warm heart.
What was he hoping to gain by losing his ear? And why did he paint it that way? Why was he so lonely and miserable at Christmas eve when everyone was in a warm room exchanging cards and spending time in front of the fireplace in a beautifully decorated house?
But looking at his works, I think he must have been very happy at the moment he was painting them. Because his paintings show his heart as it is. Even if the things he sees are shaken because of his painful heart, the warm energy contained in them may mean that he always tried to see the world with a heart full of warmth.
If his life with art was only miserable and despairing, the emotions we feel in his works should always be dark and twisted. We feel, hope, and affirm the bright energy through Van Gogh's intense sun, sunflowers and moving clouds. Perhaps this was the message Van Gogh was trying to convey at the time.
Myungja Anna Koh