On July 29, 1890, 37-year-old Vincent van Gogh died in the arms of his younger brother Theo, leaving his last words of “endless sorrow”.
Whether he committed suicide or was shot dead by opposing youths, this debate seems to be no longer so important to the descendants who regret his departure—his life, deep in the vortex of failure and madness, has already heralded an uncontrollable ending.
”In the creation of many of my works, you have played a vital role. Without you, these paintings would not be able to maintain a calmness in misfortune and displacement. This is our relationship.” Vincent before his death , an unsent letter hidden in his body, made a confession to his brother: “I have given everything to my career, and I have half of my reason for it.
” In his short life, rebellion, running away, stubbornness, defection to literature, religion, and painting all caused Vincent to struggle, ask for help, and save himself time and time again. Throughout his life, he has been using his own way to seek the family’s attention, acceptance, and approval, and to become a “normal person”.
”Life engulfs us, and the speed is so fast.” Vincent once said that everyone is in a fragile and lonely boat, sailing aimlessly in the ocean of the times.
When later generations commemorated Vincent as a “genius” and “master”, and marveled at the marvelous magnificence of his works, they often ignored his murmurs of pain or relief before his death: “I don’t want to do it all over again.” Once.”
Free life as an “outsider”
On March 30, 170 years ago, Vincent was born in a Protestant priest family in the Netherlands. This day, which should be full of vitality, has a faint sadness for the Van Gogh family-March 30 is the anniversary of the death of Vincent’s brother who died young, and the place where he was born happened to be near his brother’s grave.
There is a saying that Vincent’s mother, Anna’s family, seems to have some kind of genetic history of mental illness, and her childhood was full of fear and a sense of fate. As an “older young woman”, after marrying Dolos, she devoted “all her efforts, paranoia to order, and obedience to rules” to the upbringing of her six children. The preaching day after day “wrapped” the whole family, so that the priest’s mansion where they lived was described as “clustrophobic and emotional”.
Vincent is the “heterogeneous” among the six children, and he is out of tune with the family, especially Anna. Some people say that perhaps part of the reason is the date of Vincent’s birth, which coincides with Anna’s “fatalism”: “She was transformed into a chronic depression due to the grief of the death of her eldest son, and it was difficult to meet the needs of a newborn child. A happy mother’s love.”
Vincent, who longed for maternal love but could not get it, became increasingly eccentric and irritable, and found it difficult to control himself. In the eyes of his family, he is “curious”, “willful”, “headstrong”, “extremely difficult to get along with” and “aggressive”. Unaccepted, he chose to escape, regardless of the seasons, ignoring the weather, alone, traveling through the wilderness for a long time, wandering around. “It was a gloomy and barren time,” he later described it.
The parents couldn’t bear this “challenge”, and on a rainy day in October 1864, they put their son on their yellow carriage and sent them to the gate of a boarding school. Many years later, Vincent wrote: “It was an autumn day. I stood on the steps of Mr. Provelly’s school and watched the carriage of my parents drive away. They were going home. Looking at the yellow little The carriage ran… Between that moment and today, there are years and years, during which I feel that I am an outsider of everything…”
In the following years, he was rejected by his parents time and time again, Being “exiled” from a foreign land, or self-exiled into the wilderness. Throughout his life, he has always been an “outsider” outside his family, life, and mainstream society.
Among the Van Gogh family, there are many connoisseurs who are well-known in the art circle. When Vincent escaped from the “prison-like” boarding school again, his parents had to arrange for him to work as a clerk in an art company.
In the enthusiasm of his new job, Vincent suddenly developed a fanatical interest in the brand-new field of art. He devoured books on artists, art history and art collections, and was full of expectations for his new role. Feel disappointed in yourself.
Van Gogh House
The place where he was born happened to be near his brother’s grave.
However, the good times didn’t last long, and the company’s personnel changes affected his working status. Isolated by his colleagues, rejected by his parents, and exiled to other countries again, he desperately looked for a strength other than literature and art to support himself—at this time, religion became the straw that he clung to.
From April to December 1876, he was tossed and turned during the journey, changing one job after another, walking in a way close to masochistic. Many years later, he used “Nightcrawler” to describe himself chasing his homeland and hometown: “I am a traveler, only on the road, not arriving.” The
family did not accept his return as he expected, and was only disappointed with him, even It is contempt. He decided to become a missionary, eager to share his passion and exhort others. “Our family, as far as I can remember, has been passed down from generation to generation, and people are always passing it on.” For him, his father is the sower in the wheat field, and he believes that he can do the same.
He used “Nightcrawler” to describe himself chasing home and homeland.
The Auvers Church, painted in 1889
While longing to be loved by his mother, he hopes to be recognized by his father. In later sermons, he told more than once the story of the rag trader who was accepted by his father even though he was “unworthy of being a son”: “My son is dead, but he lives again.” If I come here, I will regain what I lost.” This was a longing that he could never achieve in his life.
The enthusiasm for evangelism did not get him on the “right track.” Repeated assessment failures made him more withdrawn and isolated, and plunged him into a vortex of failure. At the same time, it is his own self-blame for bringing pain and shame to the family, which makes him punish himself by living an ascetic life.
During this year, he experienced a mental breakdown and for the first time had thoughts of suicide.
Painting: Last Call for Help
Devoting himself to painting is a turning point in Vincent’s life, and it is also a challenge to his life value again. Perhaps it is his last way of asking for help—he needs art to escape the world and reconstruct reality.
In 1877, the Reverend Laurie Lauder said in a sermon that discovering the beauty of nature is not a way of knowing God, but the only one who can capture this beauty and express it perfectly—writers, musicians, artists , is the most trusted messenger of God. Vincent suddenly realized that painting is not only a means of expression, but also a way to find his “truth”.
For a period of time thereafter, he tirelessly drew a large number of figure sketches. However, when he failed to sell, he returned to a life of extravagance, and his parents were miserable. Theo, who has a stable job and is gradually showing off in the art trade, took over the task of supporting his brother in order to share the pressure of his parents. But Theo could not have expected that in the next ten years or so, he would have to constantly face demands from his brother, even threats.
“The Starry Night” painted by Vincent van Gogh in the Saint Remy Asylum in June 1889
Vincent stubbornly painted according to the way he believed, ignoring the changes that were taking place in the art circle at that time, and also refused to accept his brother’s well-intentioned suggestions, and developed into oil painting or watercolor painting, creating landscape paintings that sellers preferred. He even goes against the tide in extreme ways. On the other hand, he was furious because of the merchants, buyers, artists, and family members who did not understand and accept his own art.
Until February 1888, he suddenly left Paris where he lived with his younger brother and came to Arles. It was months before he died that he revealed his reasons for leaving—the first in a series of “retreats,” first from Paris, then from Arles, and finally from life.
In Arles, he fell into a frenzy from time to time, resulting in a series of bright, wondrous paintings. In early July 1888, he wrote to Theo: “It is precisely at these moments in life that I feel as an artist—even if it may not be in real life—to feel a joy, almost as I live In some idealized reality.” In
May 1890, he left the asylum at Saint-Rémy and headed north. In July, he wrote in a letter to Theo: “I have been completely conquered by this endless flat wheat field and hills. When I painted this picture, I was immersed in a peaceful state of mind. “Two months later, perhaps with such peace, he ended his life.
Once, he read his childhood poems again and again, transcribed his favorite works by Longfellow and others into books, immersed in memories and yearning. “Using nostalgia to appease loneliness, using the past to make up for the present” is Vincent’s self-protection mode that has never changed throughout his life.
”I saw the light of the village, flickering in the rain and mist, and sadness welled up in my heart, which was hard to resist.”