Below we see Vincent van Gogh “Sunflowers” the image depicts Fifteen sunflowers erupting out of a simple earthenware pot against a blazing yellow background. Some of the flowers are fresh and perky, ringed with halos of flickering, flame-like petals. Others are going to seed and have begun to droop.
In part a meditation on the vagaries of time, the picture gives a dynamic, ferociously colourful twist to the long tradition of Dutch flower painting stretching back to the 17th Century. Van Gogh painted sunflowers for the first time in the summer of 1886. Two years later, his interest re-emerged after he settled at Arles, just north of Marseille in Provence. Having invited the Post-Impressionist French artist Paul Gauguin, whom he admired, to join his Studio of the South, he began painting sunflowers to brighten up the whitewashed interiors of the yellow house he was renting at 2 Place Lamartine, not far from the town’s railway station and brothels.
When Gauguin, having accepted Van Gogh’s invitation, began dragging his heels, the Dutchman earmarked the last two of the four original Sunflowers for the modest bedroom where his guest would sleep following his arrival that autumn. “Van Gogh saw the production of the Sunflowers for Gauguin’s bedroom as a way of enticing his friend to come from Brittany,” says Bailey.
The pronounced blue outlines in the painting in the National Gallery can even be understood as a kind of homage to Gauguin, whose work had already incorporated a similar device reminiscent of the narrow bands separating flat colours in cloisonné enamel or stained glass. “By decorating his house in Arles with a series of sunflower paintings, he wanted to prove to Gauguin that he stood his ground as an artist,” explains Jansen.
According to Martin Gayford, author of The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles, “Gauguin was bowled over by the Sunflowers, which he repeatedly praised and asked for as a gift. Years later, in the South Pacific, Gauguin himself painted some sunflower pictures in apparent homage to his erstwhile housemate.”
As the series took off, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers transcended his relationship with Gauguin. “I think he painted them for the sheer joy of it,” says Jansen. “The bright yellow of the flowers that he could combine into brilliant contrasts, the forms and lines of petals and stems: they offered a great challenge for a painter.” “Van Gogh was at the height of his powers in the summer of 1888,” explains Bailey. “He painted the Sunflowers quickly and with great energy and confidence.” Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in late August: “I’m painting with the gusto of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse [Provençal fish stew], which won’t surprise you when it’s a question of painting large Sunflowers.”
This idea of allowing a relationship maybe the one politics are having with the issue of pesticides at the time could be used to shape colour and form within my images ( a visual timeline) the images could be dark and monochromatic when the government are taking a negative approach towards the topic, but as when and if their opinions begin to change for the better the image could take on more vivid colours and begin to once again show more of the image. Until one day hopefully the images are repaired indefinitely and laced with colour.
Once again the artist has remained this work bringing back the blue from the version of Van Gogh that was destroyed in Ashiya, Japan due to fire during World War II. Could this be representing a major disaster of global scale ? the introduction of the pesticide spray pot is also very interesting. We would see the idea of spraying a plant as a good thing maintaining the life of the plant, but the label on the bottle is a subtle reminder as the cost that comes with the beauty of this life, one life for another ? very similar to the awful events of the world war two Hiroshima bomb. Is the artist using this link with history to show us a window into our futures? and finally by remaining anonymous is the artist using this to his advantage as a species we are exited by the idea of solving mysteries link Banksy for example, using anonymity to keep his work in the spotlight.
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