V is for Vincent and Vignes
‘Je préfère peindre des yeux humaines plutôt que les cathedrales si majestueuses et si imposantes soient-elles
“ I would rather paint human eyes more than cathedrals no matter how majestic and imposing these might be”
Vincent Van Gogh, Anvers, 19th December 1885
Such feeling comes across in the work of this artist-a love of and curiosity for humanity-including his own unique and difficult life. I’m reading (slowly) letters from the artist to his brother Theo. It’s in French so I have to stop regularly and consult the dictionary, but not only to consider the literal meaning of his words but ponder his way of looking at life. This appreciation for the artist and his work has been a recent revelation. Seeing his works displayed on the walls of the Musee D’Orsay I understood for the first time their authentic power; vibrant and flowing with life. Twenty years before I had considered them primitive, aggravating even, lacking in the light touch of Monet whom I then loved. But life is all about change and now I can appreciate both the man and his art.
I cant go past the letter V without mentioning “Les Vignes”, the grapevines that envelop the small village where I’m staying. The cultivation of the grape here is a solemn and sacred business where every aspect of the plant’s production has been codified and sanctified by ritual. The ordered rows of the bare and bonsai like plants are just starting to produce tiny buds at the beginning of this frosty spring. When they bear fruit they will enter a new phase of the process to be eventually enjoyed as the grape of life with a level of respect and appreciation I’ve never observed in Australia for its wine. But it can take many years to produce and appreciate wine, just as it can with great art.