Saturday, January 5, 2013

Van Gogh, the Japanese

Hidden on a side street, near Fauchon at La MadeleineLa Pinacotheque de Paris offers didactic and thought provoking exhibitions. The latest is dedicated to Van Gogh and the influence of Japanese prints on his works, in particular the prints from Hiroshige, the Master of Edo (Tokyo).
By the mid-nineteenth century, Japan had opened its borders to foreigners and collecting Japanese prints became fashionable. Samuel Bing offers Japanese art in his gallery, and Theo, Van Gogh's brother, collects more than four hundred prints now housed in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

With forty paintings from Van Gogh, the curator makes the point. Next to each painting, copies or details of the print which matches the work reveal Van Gogh's source of inspiration. Structure, composition, movement, colors, even the subject acquire a Japanese flavor. Excerpts from Van Gogh's letters to Theo, displayed on the walls are a testimony to his interest for the Japanese culture, art and its religion. He is spending 1888 in the South of France where he has "discovered Japan". 
Art allows a symbiosis between the quiet, serene world of the Japanese artist and the hallucinatory, schizophrenic world of Van Gogh.     
Van Gogh communicates an inner energy with his fluid but precise stroke. The thick paint on the canvas has an earthy feel illuminated by an ethereal light, a celebration of life at the time when the artist is sinking deeper in a state of dementia.

no photographs allowed
Wiki media
"The Blooming Plum tree", 1887, Van Gogh next to "Plum trees in Kameido", Hiroshige
"The Olive Trees" 1889, Van Gogh

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