Saturday Jan 03, 2009

The Price

Given Van Gogh’s feelings for wisdom from the East, it isn’t far-reaching to speculate that he was also exposed to the intuitive serenity of Zen Buddhism and the teachings of Hinduism, including the Law of Non-Attachment.

While it might not have solved all his problems (he had no control over epilepsy, or mental illness), transcendental knowing and not being attached or a slave to the precise outcome of his desires would have most certainly provided him with a healing perspective and a buffer—to whatever degree—from his maladies.

Van Gogh certainly wasn’t attached to the old school of European art; neither was he held hostage by the arbitrary rules of Impressionism, the modern art of his era. Vincent’s enormous influence on Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstract art was the result of risk, not appeasing the crowd, or even Theo—his brother and patron.

As fellow artist Gauguin wrote in a letter of 1889 to Emile Bernard: “What would you rather have? A mediocrity which pleases everyone or a talent which breaks new ground? We must choose if we have free will. Attacks on originality are to be expected from those who lack the power to create and shrug their shoulders.”

The price an artist must pay for divine fire is dedication, not madness.

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