An old man sits huddled in the corner of a room. The room is nothing remarkable, in fact, far from it, it is a downright shambles. His clothing is threadbare in spots, worn patches expose bits of flesh—a knee, an elbow, part of his calf. He coughs and then blows his nose into the remnants of a handkerchief which at one time must have been red, but now is more pinkish grey. Breathing is no longer easy for this forsaken man. Wheezing and nearly panting, he surveys the space around him using what light manages to shine in from the other side of a grime covered window sash.
In the corner sits a stack of canvases, some are used, some completely blank, some are torn to shreds. He cannot bear to look at them. They are his torment, they represent his demise, or so he believes. Time does not pass in this dark room, it merely cycles round until somehow the cycle will ultimately come to an end. The flame of his life will flicker out here, and he will be left with nothing but his sickness, his poverty and his hatred for those despicable canvases.
Who is this man you ask…he is Gauguin, he is Vermeer, he is Cezanne or Toulouse Lautrec, he is Van Gogh. Why is it that many of the most famous artists, posthumously speaking, actually died destitute and in despair…What is it about the character of the artist that makes him/her a figure tormented to the very end…Perhaps it is this concept of perfection. The painting, the sculpture, whatever the medium, has to be absolutely perfect or else it is not fit to be seen. One flaw and the piece is irredeemable. Maybe it is the artist’s own insecurities about putting a piece of their soul out into the world—if the world rejects it, then what? Art is personal. To create it, the artist must reach into the depths of who he/she is--maybe when reaching they are discouraged by what they encounter.
Regardless of the reason, it is a well-known tale…the suffering artist, the starving artist, the destitute artist. When looking upon that painting on the wall or the sculpture in the corner, consider that it is not simply something aesthetically pleasing or purely decorative in nature, but it is potentially a piece of a tortured soul, or the scar from a wounded heart. It is an entire story about the art and its artist.
Article by Anne