Thursday, April 20, 2006

Vincent van Gogh - Cafe Terrace

Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night

Vincent van Gogh's The Cafe Terrace stands as one of the painter's most remarkable works. It is also, without question, one of the most famous produced in Van Gogh's brief but prolific career.

Cafe is the first in a trilogy of paintings which feature starlit skies. Starry Night Over the Rhone came within a month, followed by the popular Starry Night painted the next year in Saint-Ramy.

For me this painting is what art is about - touching souls. I used to say "I just don't get it. What's so special about a painting?" Later I found Escher fascinating, Picasso weird, Rembrandt crisp, Michelangelo mystical,O'Keeffe sensual, etc.

Then I see Sargent's Ambergris and in it's simplicity it tells a story. They all can come alive and we begin to realize that art is the release of our souls and can only really be seen when we cut through the numbing existence in which all of us humans reside.

Art is a trip just like the drugs some take or the adrenaline rush of an athlete. It's the escape of a movie or novel or the RV trip across the states. It's the submission to confession I took as a young man feeling free of sin. It's winning the superbowl.

Do you ever wonder why we all try so hard to escape our very average lives and the repetition? Why do we fall back so easily into the rut we travel very much like a worn path used by a herd of cattle?

My most current wonder is to ask how does the large body of fine art that is so diverse touch souls and bring them to life or cause them to dream of worlds unknown - or worlds that should be.

Touching Souls

As the wind whispers through the leaves
I hear a melody as sweet as a symphony
It's the voice of tenderness
From an open soul
It's never as it seems
It's the sound of two souls touching

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©Paul Viel