I live in a neighborhood that it is not a fancy one, or in the top 10 favorite places to live with your family in Athens.
(Maybe it is not in the top 20 even… )
From my window, if you detect rooftops and buildings you can trace the urban-planning history of the city of the last 5-6 decades.
The buildings match perfectly with the people that live there!
Across my house, there is a narrow, tidy, white house with an internal little yard behind tall walls closing the view to the street. Houses like this used to build in the ’50 or ’60. My neighbor that lives there is a skinny man of 55-65 years old that lives alone and I have hardly heard his voice ever. We speak with common phrases like “Good morning” and “How are you today?”. I get answers that are mainly a nod or an invisible smile. Sometimes he is interested in getting old electronic devices from the Recycle bin and breaking them into pieces. I have never seen him speak to somebody, invite someone to his house or leave his house to go somewhere.
I call him “the Van Gogh” and I am persuaded 100% that if Vincent was alive nowadays in our society, he would be this particular person, almost invisible, an outsider, like my neighbour.
Personally I “blame” Van Gogh (1853-1890) for the story of the “always starving artist” that his talent was recognised only after his death.
It is believed that the only painting he sold his 37 years of life, was the Red Vineyard (1888).
We all know Vincent Van Gogh and his biography is followed by the words starving and unlucky.
He never found a profession to match and gain enough money.
In the beginning, he worked as an Art Saler, in England at his uncle’s. After a while he fell in love with the already engaged, daughter of his landlady. Devastated by rejection he left the job and England.
Then he worked as a teacher almost voluntarily for little money and then in a bookstore before he fails in the exams to become a preacher. (He was dreaming of becoming a preacher of God to the coal miners).
Disappointed again returned to his parents home in Eten and started painting scenes of the continuous cycle of agricultural activity.
He fells in love again, with his cousin Kee Vos, only to live humiliation from her rejection when he followed her to Amsterdam.
All his life his brother Teo was supporting him economically and emotionally.
In 1881 he was in Hague. He was taking painting lessons from his cousin Anton Mauve and lived with his mistress that was a prostitute from time to time.
I will not give full description of his biography. Will not focus in his crisis when he cut his ear off and took it to a prostitute, in Arles …
I prefer to mention a scene of his biography that put this painter inside my heart -for ever.
While in the asylum ( Saint Remy) for the crisis he had, he liked to get outdoors and paint. Not only in the day, but in the night as well.
In order to make it possible he was wearing a hat and lit candles on it.
Imagine this interesting detail about this man ‘s life while lived in the asylum…
I dream of this night when Vincent was painting in this way, with the candles on his hat ! Anybody would thought of him as an insane person !!
Almost no one of his time could understand his majesty.
While he was creating history this very moment, his life was full of loneliness and rejection.
Of course I wanted for so long to paint that night.
I imagine myself as a time traveler. I go back to 1889 and I watch him paint, in the night, with the candlelight, staring at the night sky and making those famous spinning stars.
Those stars that astronomers bother searching how should have been, back to that special night.
Every time I see my neighbor I think of Van Gogh.
I trigger my self not to stay on the surface of things.
You might have a genius in front of you and never notice…