How to explain Van Gogh to Chinese?

Since Amsterdam Schiphol is such a great hub for Europe, I had to take advantage on my last trip and go back to the Van Gogh museum, especially as some Chinese friends had commented they couldn’t understand what the fuss is about Van Gogh.




Sunflowers:  yellow flowers in a yellow vase on a yellow table against a yellow painted wall – who would have thought of painting that?   It is like a master exercise in colour and it works.   Lit up in the museum lights the thick heavy paint strokes are relucent:  the paint looks thick and wet.   It’s so thick that you can feel the intensity and feeling of each brushstroke.

You can’t see that in a jpeg you have to go and look at the real thing.


Blossoms and sunshine: The exceptional work isn’t just sunflowers and relatively monochromatic subjects: blossoming flowers presented against rich blue background appear to be bursting into life in the title picture.  Elsewhere a dragonfly appears in 3d thick strokes, apparently about to take off.

Van Gogh’s work is not about depression and crazy stuff like the famous painting of crows in the cornfield (often called Death in a Cornfield but not in fact his last painting).
Many of these works speak of new life and hopes and dreams.


Van Gogh Potato Eaters


Some of the earlier darker coloured (and not very popular) pieces are trying to present a positive view of the dignity of a rural life, humble but in touch with nature like these “potato-eaters”.  This doesn’t have the fully developed characteristics and quality of his later style.



Of course you can’t capture the quality of the brushwork in jpeg images… you have to go to see it..  now I will try to explain that in Chinese.

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