First heard the song in class back in junior high school. It was during an English class but I can’t remember how it came to be included in the lesson. Yet the song was so impactful and I knew it was sung by its songwriter, Don Mclean and immediately after school that afternoon, I went running to all music stores to search for the album. I did not make it in the first attempt but eventually, somehow, I was able to find it after some hard work. And the song has been imprinted in my mind since. Later in my senior high school days, I came to know a little about the Western Art History and was first introduced to a great artist whom my teacher admires. He was nonetheless the great Vincent Van Gogh. You can imagine the joy I have had when the song and to whom it was written for finally made sense to me. And though I love other artists like Picasso and Monet, Matisse and Klimt, Van Gogh remains one special person to me.
This exhibition claims to be of the largest scale outside Holland and many important pieces were revealed right before my eyes. Yet I was searching high and low for my first Van Gogh paintings, the Sunflower or The Starry Night and of course they weren’t there. Looking at his paintings, I couldn’t help asking the question how did he gain such popularity and admiration when he may not be as skilful as Picasso or that his impressionistic mood can’t really be compared to Monet’s masterpieces. So is it just his sorrowful life and premature death? Or is it because of his thick paint brush strokes? Then I saw the brush strokes that always suggest movement such as the rays of the sun and in the painting, The country road in Provence by night, every single stroke or brush may also depict the varying tones of colors and the change in the light. Sometimes just by slapping a different color onto the backdrop of the canvas will bring about a 3-dimensional effect and pieces such as Sorrow and the Sorrowful old man (at eternity’s gate) are just some examples of how his paintings can move you with simple yet sincere brush strokes.
To be true, it’s still his life and personality that make him special to me. And the song that went…for they couldn not love you, but still your love was true…I remembered listening to it years after my first encounter after a glass of long island tea and someone just said it softly to my ears, “Vincent”…That happened too, on a starry starry night.