Van Gogh’s brushmarks

We visited the Kröller-Muller Museum in eastern Netherlands last weekend, (which I’ll write about in another post.)

The main object of our visit was to see the Van Gogh collection, as the 19th century painter is Hiie’s favourite artist.

As we were sauntering around the modernist gallery with a truck load of school children, I finally realised what makes it so compelling and powerful seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings in real life.

It’s the brushwork.

You feel like he is present with you, as you can see and feel every brushmark he made.

Every swirl and twist, every thread and staccato point of rich, glistening coloured oil paint.

I’ve never felt like that with any other painter, to this degree. where you can feel the artist’s presence.

Otterloo_kroller_muller_signac_deux_cypres
Paul Signac ‘Two Cypresses’ 1893 Kroller-Muller Museum

Many paintings may have a ‘beautiful’ image but you don’t feel the individuality of the artist in the same way. Everything’s smooth and impersonal in regard to brushmarks.

And once those dots and dashes become formulaic like in the ‘pointillist’ painter Signac, it loses this individual presence. The art of the past stays in the past.

Van Gogh’s brushwork isn’t a style. He’s trying to render the power of his reality as he sees and feels and his paintings are always contemporary because of it.

In real life, that is. You don’t get that from a book or on the internet.

 

#kröller muller museum

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