“Monday 5 Things”™…..Immersed…..

Xpr32793Photo: D. Paul Graham, “Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience”, Atlanta 2021

“Monday 5 Things”™…..Immersed….. 

Our eyes needed to adjust to the dark anteroom. Then, the short brush strokes and bold contrasting colors were immediately recognized. Flowers and fields. The bedroom. The hospital. Snippets of information of the man and artist that left me wondering what I would have asked him if we could have shared a table and coffee on a Parisian promenade. Harvests and irises. Cafes and boulevards. Starry nights and full moons. Cypress trees and tree roots. Portraits of others. Portraits of self that revealed the old, troubled soul of a much younger man. Benches and chairs to sit within his paintings. Space designed to allow one to slow down from a hectic week and simply be immersed in the brilliance of his art.

Then, turning another corner, a paroxysm of light and sound filled a room the size of a basketball court. His paintings brought to life on the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. Some sat on chairs and benches. Others leaned against the walls. Still others laid back on carpets placed around the space. All, even children, wide-eyed as the images moved around the space and over our bodies; music, perfectly chosen to match his work, filled our ears and moved our hearts. We all were deeply immersed into the work of this artistic virtuoso. I was moved to tears as familiar brushstrokes, contrasts and scenery presented the paintings and sketches with a fresh gravitas that freed his work from the confine of frames.

We moved to exit the room and took a virtual reality walk through the fields, vineyards, towns, and waterfronts where he lived and painted. Seven of his most well-known paintings were seen virtually from the perspective and locations that he painted them. And I left with a fresh excitement, a renewed appreciation for the brilliance of a supposed mad man whose very essence, his very life’s mission was to create. How much more would the world have experienced had he lived beyond his 37 years? This morning’s M5T shares some thoughts on an artist named Van Gogh and the Immersive Experience in Atlanta.

1. See the Light.

This morning before you rush into your day, or, perhaps more likely, before your day rushes at you, take a moment to look at the light. Look up at the sky and clouds. This evening, take some time to look up into the night sky. See the colors, the movement of clouds across a nearly full moon. Watch how light drapes itself over objects. What do you see in the light? What do you see in the shadows? Even if for a moment, let the light envelop you, warm you, calm you, inspire you. Take time to see the beauty around you. Don’t wait to be inspired. “Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.” ~ VVG

2. The ABC’s.

Always Be Creating. I have always been fascinated by the amount of work that Van Gogh created. From the time he started in his 20’s, he created 900 paintings and over 1,100 drawings and sketches in the decade before his death. Four works of art per week – one new piece every 36 hours. Even while he was hospitalized with mental illness, he painted while looking out of his hospital room. In the last year of his life, he created nearly a piece a day. His prolific works of art were a reminder and inspiration that I, that we all, need to continue to create. Create with intention. Create to take more risks and to break the rules of conformity and expectations of others. “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you cannot paint’ then by all means paint and the voice will be silenced.” ~ VVG

3. Color Your World.

Van Gogh’s early work used dark tones and heavy brushstrokes. After he moved to Paris, he captured mood and passions using shorter brush strokes and bright emotive colors. Provencal golden suns. Prussian blue skies. Vibrant orange roofs. He took artistic risks contrasting purples on yellow, reds on green, and blues against orange.  A color vision deficiency that made him see more yellow, may be the reason that he painted colors with such vividness, vibrancy, and vitality. “The laws of the colors are unutterably beautiful, just because they are not accidental.” ~ VVG

4. Embrace Being Alone.

Van Gogh had a troubled life. He struggled to create in poverty and in poor health and he suffered through deep bouts of depression and delusions. His best friend was Gauguin. A friendship that ended when, in a drunken night, he confronted Gaugin with a razor; the same razor that he used to cut off part of his left ear. He checked himself into a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Province. From his room in a hospital in Arles, he painted wheat fields, vineyards and cypress and olive trees that he saw out his window. “You can’t be at the pole and the equator at the same time. You must choose your own line, as I hope to do, and it will probably be color.” ~ VVG

5. The World May Not Get You. Yet.

A struggling and tortured artist, Van Gogh lived in abject poverty his whole life. He often traded paintings to pay for rent and food. Despite his reputation as a mad man, a drunk, and a failure, he remained committed to his need and vision to paint and sketch the world around him. His brother Theo was perhaps his greatest encourager in his life. Homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet, who cared for Van Gogh in the last year of his life, encouraged him to create more. Throwing himself into painting, Van Gogh’s created at a frenzied pace each day that year until he took his own life at the age of 37. It wasn’t until after his life that the brilliance of his work was appreciated. The top 5 paintings that sold after his death were these: ‘Portrait of Dr. Gachet’ sold in 1990 for $82.5 million; ‘Portrait of Joseph Roulin’ sold in 1989 for $58 million; ‘Irises’ sold in 1987 for $53.9 million; One of many self-portraits, ‘Portrait de L’artiste Sans Barbe’ sold in 1998 for 71.5 million; and ‘A Wheatfield with Cypresses’ sold in 1996 for $57 million. “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” ~ VVG

Here’s to a week of keeping both ears, creating intentionally, seeing light from your own perspective, living an utterly beautiful life that is not accidental, and embracing your own you.

“I long to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort – and disappointment and perseverance.” ~ VVG

© 2021 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and atwww.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.co