I knew him totally, from the moment I first saw his frenzied expressions. The movement of dazzling colors jumped off the page and wrapped around me with music blaring and energy zapping my heart. I connected. He was there, in the colors, in the strokes, laying his soul bare for all the world to see.
I needed to know more, more about this complicated painter who let his mind loose to echo both his love and angst on canvas in frantic, thick strokes, strokes that seemed to break free of the brush and dash about like ants scattering.
I found copies of his earlier work, back when he was a religious man and preached to poor coal miners. His paintings of them are simple, black figures with bulbous features as blank as their rigorous lives. And yet, he saw their beauty, their grace. He put that elegance to canvas as he watched them work, eat, and live. The gentle heart of Vincent reached out and touched these poor souls in tattered clothing, people any of us might look away from in disdain–he saw their dignity.
Later, he took to colors on canvas to express that old, familiar longing. His palate copied fields and starry skies, friends and himself…even his bedroom, colorful and sturdy with furniture and a bed, and a personality of its own. The strokes are controlled, carefully taking their places to make a masterpiece of form and color. In later paintings, the strokes run wild in frenzied emotion to create unique masterpieces. In total, his works reveal a childish soul seeing life expressing itself in simple vistas and people.
He saw himself as well, painting startling self portraits that map the progress of his mania. At times the strokes take leave of their master and fly off the page as though it took all his sanity trying to contain them.
Vincent suffered from mental illness which chased the artful magic away, pushing him finally to the edge. His haunting self portraits document the path of his troubled mind until finally he took his own life at the young age of 37.
Copyright JO Janoski