Outside of, Portrait of Vincent, there was only one other portrait I did of Van Gogh and that was a black and white collage called Homage to Vincent. It had his facial image as a tortured theme. One of his self-portraits was the centerpiece.
Homage to Vincent Art Coelho ©
After reading Van Gogh’s three volume set of his complete letters in my youth I gained a deeper impression of what an artist struggle was all about. I discovered the canvases he painted in Southern France or Provence, which came to be known as his Arles Period-they changed my thinking on how grand nature can be when individual expression has no limits. Arles is where the sunlight transformed Vincent’s work to such a vast degree it revolutionized his palette.
I always had a desire to paint scenes from Arles and to study the lavender light for myself in between the olive groves. So I went into debt for five grand in 2001 and spent twenty-one days doing field studies there. I had more in mind than just painting landscapes and gypsy scenes from that area where history points Mary Magdalene to be preaching the gospel in the environs of her cave, which served as her home. I wanted to write poetry too. I ended up painting around fifty canvases from my own Provence period; and still paint scenes from that region from to time.
One of my biggest dreams was to go to Saint-Remy where at St-Paul-de-Mausole’s asylum Vincent’s had self-committed himself. He’d had his breakdown at Arles and cut off his ear and gave it to a whore at a brothel he frequented. I wanted to trace his steps inside St. Paul’s, go to the room where he stared out over the wall to the olive groves and the rolling wheat fields, but the French had permanently sealed in Vincent’s living quarters cell. Vincent’s doctor had taken away his artist brushes because painting in the hot brilliant sun was considered too dangerous for him. Especially with his passionate nature and his visionary obsessions, they overexcited him when his palette inspired visions of bright colors. He used a lot of chrome yellow during his Arles Period. For souvenirs I brought back four rocks I dug out of the wall that Vincent stared out across these same olive groves during his incarceration there.
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