A lot has changed in twenty-one years, but one thing has remained ever constant— my love for Vincent Van Gogh. I still remember that day as though it were this moment, and though the little details of insignificant things have long since vanished, I remember with great clarity looking upon The Potato Eaters for the very first time. I remember the burnt umber, the brushstrokes, the face of the woman who I needed to sketch into my book beside the ticket stub. I remember the display of canvases that had been painted on both sides, I remember the vivid yellow of the sunflowers.
The night before Pedro and I visited the Van Gogh Museum, I couldn't sleep from the pounding in my chest. The excitement of a reunion was too much, and I wondered what I would feel when enveloped in all those colours and thick paint. I wanted to rush my breakfast, and hit the streets in a sprint.
We arrived just before 9:00 am, and there was already a long line winding outside the entrance to the museum. Anticipating this, I had bought our tickets online to avoid the queue, and when the doors finally opened, joy!
We were the second people to enter the Munch : Van Gogh exhibit that day— this for some reason, gave me tremendous satisfaction. Though I was so very thrilled to see the work of two great artists displayed side-by-side in such an elegant and thoughtful way (truly, the Van Gogh Museum is unparalleled), I was only really there for one thing— one person.
This is my pilgrimage; his palette and letters holy relics, and his artwork, oh his artwork! There is nothing like his artwork. Nothing like the dappled forest floors or weathered faces, or the invisible wind that shakes leaves and wheat— Naples yellow, ultramarine, ochre— nothing. I imagine the movement of his hands, the way he stood, the way he saw. I peer into each painting, my eyes getting wet.
And then, there it was, so much smaller than I remembered it— that wheat field. It had swallowed me whole and I got lost in all the movement. At fifteen, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life, and at thirty-six, I was still overcome. The memory of that day and this has entwined into something so marvellous.
So my dear Vincent, thank you.
Thank you for giving us all that such an eccentric has in his heart.
All photos were taken at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.