- I am Vincent Willem and I often think that I live a life that is not mine…
- I inherited the name of my older brother who died a year before I was born… I can’t help but feel like his substitute. Although I try to heal my parents’ pain and justify my existence, I can’t. I cannot maintain a cordial relationship with my parents or my siblings. The only exception is Theo, he’s the only person in this world who understands me.
- In my family men dedicate themselves to two things: art and religion. So, at a very young age, I started as an art dealer apprentice in The Hague. As soon as I finish my apprenticeship, they send me to London. It’s the only time in my life that I’m really happy! … It doesn’t last long, though… they fire me soon, they say that “I lack communication and business skills”.
- Following in my father’s footsteps, I decide to take another path and carry the word of God to the darkest places. I live in poverty with the people of the Borinage mines, my conditions are pitiful. I have earned the nickname of “The Christ of the Mines” but it doesn’t do much good: I don’t connect with people; they always end up rejecting me.
- All the women I fall in love with turn their backs on me. I have proposed three times and all three times I have ended up heartbroken. My only option is to pay for love and with that I get to calm myself a little. My family doesn’t approve of my relationship with Sien, and they threaten to leave me without means to live if I do not abandon her. Loneliness takes hold of me, and sometimes it seems that I am condemned to it.
- I think the “Potato Eaters” is my best painting. It reflects an endless circle: the lives of people who eat to have the strength to work, and work to have something to eat the next day, without any other aspirations or hopes. Their entire universe revolves around these potatoes.
- I live in a devastating poverty.
I often paint on top of other paintings to save on canvases.
And my worn-out boots are the witnesses of the hard and exhausting roads that I am having to wander.
- I am learning, and art is becoming the only path I know. I refine my technique, I paint still lifes and everyday objects. I enrol in the Academy in Antwerp, I make an effort, but the Academy teachers don’t understand my style either.
- Paris fills me with its air, here I feel like I came out of the darkness into the light. I don’t have money to pay for models, so I paint landscapes, urban scenes, myself. Everything here is new to me.
- I’m experimenting with colours, and my self-portraits reflect these experiments! The dark range, little by little, gives way to blue and yellow tones… These new colours help me to express everything that I am experiencing.
- Bohemian life attracts and inspires me. Some days I prefer not to eat and save a coin to have a glass of absinthe at night while talking about art at the Tambourin Cafe.
- Japan is my great discovery. I collect Japanese prints and I study each and every detail in them. I learn a lot from their composition. My own paintings become flat, and I strive to express colour and shape instead of realism and perspective.
- In the south of France, I try to recreate my inner Japan. The fishing boats inspire me as they fight against the force of the sea to advance towards their destiny. I’d like to think that after all the storms in my life I would finally be home and dry.
- In Arles, surrounded by nature, I find my colours: spring turquoise, summer emerald, autumnal sulphur, winter sienna… these shades are now my favourites.
- I draw the Langlois Bridge in all the seasons of the year, I like coming here, it takes me to my native Holland.
- I dream about creating a community of artists dedicated to what we do – capture beauty. I have invited Gauguin to join me on this adventure…
- But we do not understand each other. Instead of creating together, we argue every day. I feel the world around me starting to collapse. I feel bad, very bad…
- I’m tired! I seek help from the night, my only ally, the one that does not judge me or humiliate me, it helps me to forget the failures of the day. All my dreams are broken!
- I look at the stars and imagine another universe. Fairer, more humane, happier.
- I’m starting to fall in love with the yellow colour… I paint everything in yellow: the earth, the sky, even people who, by the way, have that yellowish shade when their skin is kissed by the sun. I think I could paint nothing but yellow!
- For me, sunflowers symbolize gratitude, the pure light that cures the broken hearts. The more I look at sunflowers, the more richness I discover in them!
- There are many people around me… but I am always alone. Even the people I paint, later call me crazy.
- Gauguin left without saying goodbye… Theo proposed to Jo… the police kicked me out of the Yellow House…
My world is falling apart and I can’t find any other way out than to go to the psychiatric hospital.
- Little by little I begin to feel better… I spend my days painting the landscapes that surround the hospital, the lilies in the garden, the nights of Saint-Remy and above all cypresses, the cypresses are always in my thoughts.
- My brother had a son and named him Vincent. Now I feel replaced!… just like I replaced my older brother, but I, on the other hand, am alive… I start to paint a picture for him…
- Theo is very ill and refuses any medical help. If something happens to him, I won’t be able to live without him, without his support…
I am moving to Auvers-sur-Oise, to be closer to him. Doctor Gachet will take care of me… My heart is tired of beating. Here only the silence of the fields surrounds me.
- Someday, death will take us to another star!