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Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous and influential artists of all time; however, he spent hard times as a poor and obscure artist during his lifetime. The fact that Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting during his brief life supports the fact that he struggled in obscurity and with his identity for a long time. Most of all, there is a significant fact that Vincent Van Gogh was prone to reflecting his sensitivity in his works, and to painting places that had personal meaning. His landmark work, “Starry Night” could be the best example to display his tendency as an artist who expresses his condition and emotions based on a personal conflict in his ways. The main purpose of his obscurities would be the fact that Vincent Van Gogh had many mental illnesses.
Surprisingly, his incredible artistic talent went unnoticed and unrecognized until he was 27 years old after he had already failed at two other career choices as an art dealer and a Protestant minister, as well as a teacher. After his short period as a teacher, he returned home to Holland for a visit to his parents, where he decided to stay. While working as a clerk for a bookseller, he rented a room with a family named Rijken. Mrs. Rijken said that she had to scold numerous kids for taunting Vincent, calling him ‘a queer freak’. He was only 24 years old at the time he lived there. When Vincent realized that he was inadequate as a teacher and bookseller, he became desperate to find work. His parents didn’t want to continue supporting their oldest son, who was a failure in their eyes. This made Van Gogh decided to fulfill his father’s wish of him becoming a minister. Although, his heart was never in any of those other occupations. He ended up going back to what he knew best: art.
Vincent Van Gogh’s mental disorders strongly influenced him to create a lot of emotional artworks that mostly reveal his loneliness and a feeling which was rejected from the world. Van Gogh’s conditions are depicted with the flexible choice of colors and by choosing subjects showing how much they are lonely as well. Van Gogh’s mental health problems shaped his unique art style. When he was more miserable he used darker, mysterious colors i.e. Starry Night 1889; and when he was straight to the point, Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear, 1889. He used art to convey his personal life. Van Gogh never tried to hide his depression, yet instead highlighting this in his paintings, and this is what makes him so individual. Both these artworks were constructed around the same time, 1889 in the 19th century. This was a time in Van Gogh’s life of great misplacement and the downhill run to his suicide in 1890 at 37. A series of events led to his downfall including such events as chasing Gauguin with a knife, resulting in the fallout of their relationship; cutting his left ear off as a consequence for his misbehavior and handing it to a prostitute as a ‘gift’ in 1888; finally shooting himself in the chest. These series of events subsequently relate to Van Gogh’s paintings, as he painted with full attentive emotion within his artworks using color as a vehicle to convey his subjective emotions.
Van Gogh was fighting with his conscious throughout the short duration of his life. When Vincent had attacks of his mental illness, lines in his works became restless, he used rough texture and applied paint very thickly. Also, each of Vincent’s self-portrait paintings indicates a different emotion with various colors. Vincent Van Gogh painted 36 self-portraits in his life, and he used painting self-portraits as a method of introspection, the examination, or observed of one’s own mental and emotional processes. One of his most famous self-portrait paintings, “Self Portrait with a Bandaged Ear” is an example that displays his unique style which helps convey his emotion and condition in many ways. There is an interesting behind episode that Van Gogh was motivated by a psychotic attack after he chased and attacked his friend with a knife. Although he had sprouts of extreme violence there was evidence that suggests that he had manic depression. Manic depression is a chronic mental illness that is thought to affect many creative people.
Many people believe that artists overcome suffering from their creative acts, but suffering may also overwhelm the artist. Had lithium carbonate therapy been available, Van Gogh might have defeated his manic depression, avoided his tragic fate, and grown further as an artist. “If I could have worked without this accursed disease, what things I might have done,” he wrote in one of his last letters (www.ncbi.gov). Van Gogh suffered greatly from depression throughout most of his life, though he most likely didn’t talk to anyone about it. It would have been a good way to maintain an appropriate mindset as well as balance the chemicals in his brain. Van Gogh could have benefitted from medications to lower his anxiety and intense energy. If he would have been properly treated and if he got the help that he needed, he could have lived a happier life. Van Gogh would probably have been around to see how respected his artwork has become. Van Gogh was seen by most as a troubled artist. This is far from the actual truth of his chaotic life which was filled with failure in every occupational pursuit he attempted including painting. Van Gogh expressed many episodes of depression, violence, and abnormal behavior. Thanks to the preservation of thousands of letters Van Gogh had written to friends and family, especially to his brother Theo, there is a nearly complete understanding of his feelings, experiments, and views on every aspect of his life.
Vincent Van Gogh famously stated, “If you hear a voice in you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”. One would never engage in an activity in which you have no skills. To achieve this skill you must engage in this activity frequently and learn from one’s errors. The only thing that will detain you from achieving this is doubt and fear. Vincent Van Gogh had perseverance and did not cease his love for painting. He is a famous figure in art history hence he had a thrilling and intriguing life and stood out from most painters from his time. Vincent had many struggles in life mentally, emotionally, and physically.