Friday, December 09, 2005

Drawing with Van Gogh

"To say these pictures required a kind of monkish devotion to draw is in part to reiterate his inherited Dutch Reform ideas about nature and the revelation of God. Nature was virtually supernatural to him. There is no better proof that he wasn't the mad hatter of movie legend than these painstaking tributes to sublime countryside - as Robert Hughes once put it about van Gogh's paintings, "if sanity is to be defined in terms of exact judgment of ends and means and the power of visual analysis."
-Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

Van Gogh's drawings have a quality of vision that astounds. Each area in the Zouave is drawn with a different series of marks from Van Gogh's reed pens. It is as if each part is presented in a different artistic language: the stippled face, the vertically marked wall, the crosshatched hat.

Seeing With the Brush, Esalen "The Painted Word", December 2005

Last weekend at Esalen, Phil Cousineau and I presented our thoughts on the creative process. Writing and drawing begin with a dark mark on a blank sheet. This urge to create marks can be seen as one partial definition of humanity. Like the cave dwellers in the Dordogne in unrecorded time, we have an urge to leave our mark on the wall.

Bulls Head, Lascaux

By connecting deep attention with a simplicity of means, true vision emerges.

The exhibition of Van Gogh's drawings continues at the Metropolitan Museum in New York until December 31st, 2005.

Van Gogh Podcast narrated by Kevin Bacon


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