Thursday, October 20, 2016

The grains of sand on Van Gogh's painting

Recently, a painting of Vincent Van Gogh was recovered in Naples among others stolen in December 2002. The painting is called "View of the Sea at Scheveningen". It was painted by Vincent van Gogh on location in 1882, at a beach resort near the Hague. 

While living in the Hague, Van Gogh made regular trips to Scheveningen, a nearby fishing village. He had begun to experiment with oil paint, and he set up his easel close to the beach and worked directly on his canvas in the windblown sand. He fought against the raging elements while applying thick and expressive colours and rough brushstrokes to evoke them. The rough sea, the dark menacing sky and the gusting wind progressively stopped hindering him and started to embed themselves in the painting. Flying sand stuck to the wet paint and became part of it. The grains of sand can still be seen in some of the paint layers today.

It is those grains of sand, stuck on that canvas in 1882 that attest that, even by that early time (he had just started to paint one year ago), Van Gogh had succeeded in finding the holy grail of painting. To transpose a living scene on canvas, not as a picture, but as a direct experience that can be relived from then on to eternity. It's as if nature itself had lend a hand to perfect this painting, opening up its secrets to the eyes of this man on that desolate beach. As soon as Van Gogh put the finishing touches to this painting, he managed to get a glimpse of William Blake's auguries of innocence and saw a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower. He held infinity in the palm of his hand and eternity in an hour...

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