The problem with Van Gogh is pretty clear cut. He suffered from tides of nostalgia. Obsession chained him to the slavery of his emotions. Self-vindication. Fraternal longing, probably from the lack of fraternal love. He did have close ties with his brother Theo, but it was a longing that a brother alone could not fulfill. The ultimate problem with Van Gogh is that he did not have a complete union with God. With bipolar depression acting like a thorn in his brain that keeps piercing, I understand the difficulty of maintaining a union in a relationship- ANY relationship. I can attest to that. I have a proof: My divorce.
His relationship was with “Art”, a very turbulent one. If that’s what it means to be an artist, then I do not think I fit into that category. I am no artist, then. Because I will ditch my partner “Art” at any moment if it starts to dominate my freedom and happiness. To me art is means, something I do for fun and passion, a way to express my emotions and thoughts. It’s a communication, a way to deepen my real relationships; relationship with my life, with my friends, with the world and ultimately with God.
“One feels weaker as an artist the more one associates with other artists.”, Van Gogh wrote to his artist friend Rappard. I feel weaker as an artist just by reading an autobiography of Van Gogh. “They look upon you and me as unpleasant, quarrelsome nonentities. They consider us ponderous and boring in our work and in our persons. Prepare to be misunderstood, despised, and slandered.” He lamented their shared fate as artistic pariahs and social outcast(Van Gogh: The Life, pg. 389).
I can easily identify his voice with the author of Psalm 102. “Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.”
This psalm is written in much affliction, but ends with a powerful narration of God’s promised kingdom. It’s an assurance of hope to be fulfilled, a new song we will be singing one day after this exile comes to a final end. There is so much relief when we look upon the finished work of God, and the promise guaranteed to be kept instead of our own unfinished work. I am no artist but I have an artist Father. I am no creator but I have a Father who created all creations. I am relieved from my self-designated duty of creating some piece of writing. I hold no such duty. The world won’t break down because I did not produce my masterpiece. The only masterpiece I am required to produce is my praise and I praise my holy Father, my Lord, and the holy family that will last forever.
All things will parish except the heavenly things. I hope in the Lord, in the kingdom of heaven to come, but not in the Writing. I did once in my young days. I thought then that it’s either writing or death. Had I kept that destructive idea any longer, I wouldn’t be here today writing.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.”