Gauguin’s Soliloquy

aftergauguin

Gauguin’s Soliloquy – after Robert Browning

Gr-r-r – there goes my heart’s torment,
take your damn easel for a walk, do –
if hatred could kill men, Vincent,
God’s blood, would mine not kill you!
What? You’re going to pick sunflowers –
well, don’t bring them back to the sink,
I don’t want you painting here for hours.

Well, thank God, that lunatic’s gone –
he not only paints in oils but eats the stuff too!
Last night he went for me with a razor –
he slashed a canvas which I had to mend with glue.
He can only paint what’s in front of him;
I use my imagination as well as chrome yellow
while he complains of being a victim!

I expect you know he sponges off his brother?
Poor Theo has to send canvas and paints,
Vincent spends half the money on gin,
it’s enough to try the patience of saints,
I don’t think I can stand it much longer:
I’m in danger of committing a mortal sin
I don’t want to end up in the slammer.

Ah, I know what I’ll do, if you please,
I’ll pack up my things while he’s out –
I’ve always wanted to go to the South Seas;
the hot sun will be good for my gout!
Yes, I’ll paint native Tahitians – after they undress.
I’ll become famous for my Gardens of Eden
while mad, bad Vincent will die—penni-less!

The starting point for this was Robert Browning’s Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister from which you will see I’ve filtched the first two lines. Browning may be thought old fashioned and ‘Victorian’ but his trade mark dramatic monologues still feel original and alive to me.

It is well known that Van Gogh and Gauguin shared a house – the Yellow House in Arles – for a while and wondered about setting up an artists’ colony. The two artists were pretty temperamental characters and predictably they soon got on each others nerves!

Gauguin wrote a biased account of their time together which blames Vincent for everything that went wrong. As usual reality was more complicated. The stereotypical ‘crazy artist’  gets in the way of the actual complexities. I’ve always warmed more to Van Gogh’s paintings (than Gauguin’s ) and by reading his Letters, realised while he must have been hell to live with, he was  well- read, a visionary like Blake, intellectually and spiritually inquisitive and sensitive to suffering – but of course mentally unstable. There are many theories about this latter point. One of the more recent biographies is The Love of Many Things by David Sweetman which I have yet to read (apart from dipping into it). I would also like some day to visit the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The incidents in the poem are based on real events.

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Red Kites in Landscape

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As the weather in the UK has been warm and spring-like I’ve posted this painting of mine which has ‘summery’ bright colours. I like the use of colours by the Expressionist painters, especially Franz Marc and this painting is probably influenced by that fact! Like all my paintings on my blog this was painted a number of years ago. You can click to enlarge the image.

Some of the signs of spring here are toads in pairs waddling along footpaths, chiffchaff and skylarks singing and peackcock butterflies flying.  On the quayside (on theTyne Bridge) the kittiwakes are well into incubating their eggs. It is one of the furthest, if not the furthest, inland kittiwake colony in the world.  I haven’t seen any swallows yet.

Red Kite and landscape

This is a painting I did on cardboard, using acrylic, some years ago. It is quite small, less than 12inch across. Looking at it now I’m surprised I chose black for the red kite! I don’t want to read too much into it but it was painted as an expressionistic non-naturalistic landscape, so perhaps the archetype of the Shadow is part of the symbolism.

The reason I’m posting some of my art work is that I have a pile of stuff gathering dust so I took photos of the best of the bunch and will post them occasionally on this blog. I no longer paint and thought up until now that was a part of my past; I would no longer pick up a brush. However, never say never, as they say! (The Blucher drawing was done this year but that’s a pencil drawing not a painting.)

 

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The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men was a group of men who saved works of art during WW2. The film The Monuments Men is directed by George Clooney. Hitler called most art of the time, degenerate art. This is something I wrote after reading about the ‘degenerate art’ exhibition.

degenerate art

this painting is degenerate the sky is green the fields are blue. this artist of our heroic country has contaminated our culture with blatant primitivism. what we need is beauty and draughtsmanship of the highest order. this is not a poem. in this painting the artist has used an imbecile as his model. just look at her face. this is not a fitting subject for high art. this primitivism must be purged otherwise how are we to retain purity of race. ideals of harmony and beauty must prevail. this is not a poem. as a symbol or representation of all that is abhorrent in modern art look at this portrait of a soldier in which he stretches forth the bloody stump of his right arm. the eyes are empty hollow and dead. the glowing red colours and the yellow nude suggest aggression which has no part in the best traditions of western art. this is a product of a diseased mind anyhow let us have an exhibition of the worst of these daubs as ridicule is the best weapon of the truly cultured. all proceeds will go to the fatherland. this is not a poem.