At the Musée d’Orsay Paris, I couldn’t help pondering in front of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Room in Arles’ 1889.
Look at the solid horizontal and vertical lines and a couple of diagonals too. The inside of a building, a room, furniture: solid, strong and reliable as are Vincent’s brush strokes and colour: frank, lively, vigorous and rapid yet depicting a scene of rest and retreat.
Vincent’s artistic style and his choices of colour are deliberately contained and self-restrained by the simple solidity of the subject matter.
The then unknown Van Gogh really tried to sell his works, but this subject matter, less so the style as this was at the time of the Impressionists, was too personal to appeal to a purchaser. After all, who would want a picture of an itinerant artist’s bedroom? What would it be worth today?
I love the narrative of the man it contains. His presence is there. You can easily imagine him sitting behind his easel out of our sight, on his own, painting his simplicity, his few possessions, his so intimate environment, perhaps his unfulfillment, sadness and emptiness.
The painting is alive with a lonely man soon to pass, leaving the room as empty as with his unseen presence here.