Van Gogh possessed the ingredients for such a fragile painting. The miserable life, a failure following another failure, the awkwardness of social relations, the lack of worldly horizon, the fatality’s development, the despotic character, the morality, the sense of the absolute, the desire to become “God’s poor” as an apostle or a painter.
Van Gogh has the faith of an unbeliever, of the one who verifies anything by himself. His tools are the painting, the human relations that left him burned, his illnesses and his escape from the confessional framework of Christianity – paradoxically, he discovers here, in an orthodox way and without even knowing it, the faith of the East.
I started my journey along Van Gogh in 2013 at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. There, Van Gogh stands out from the rest with his unprecedented painting. At home, I am the one who tells the story to my relatives, including Sorin Dumitrescu as well.
Intrigued by my Parisian observations, master Dumitrescu answers with interest by writing me nine letters which made the subject of his book about the Dutch artist, and invites me to “remake” together the artist’s Weaver at the loom as an attempt to interrogate the original work.
The paintings with Van Gogh are an exercise of undisguised admiration, made by one’s own means, where the blunders combine with the virtues. The gain comes from my fellowship with Vincent, as I had access to the same muted values cultivated by the Dutchman and to the searchings which remained unanswered at that time, but which later became “late bomb- challenging”. I was booked to restrain myself and to fall under Vincent’s spell. He is my support, my crutch, the approval of the Way, but also the stake and the thorn, an ideal that does not give me peace but chaos, alteration and anxiety.
My work is based on the observations that enlivened my master Sorin Dumitrescu, a painter that has the reflections of the iconographer, reflections which were also passed to me, a painter of the sensitive, with the impetuousness and vulnerability of personal endeavor. The acquired knowledge helped me to discover a way to the inherent eternal values and slowly fading virtues of the Dutch painter. From there, Vincent adds to my studio’s both neuroses and control through a connection that is no stranger to the artists who love their models. I think its appropriate to talk about “my Vincent” from now on’’
About Potato Eaters
There’s a Christian gasp in the traumatic painting of the Potato Eaters, an inner urge that presents the suffering of the others and his own as a saving tool, worthy of being painted. There is an implicit act of his sacrifice for which I bow before him and kiss his feet. To be so fragile, yet to choose to paint vigorously, energetically. It looks like the painting of a death row inmate.
I chose to paint in black in order to illustrate the potato eaters, the boots, the old church tower in Nuenen and the cemetery, the faces of weavers, the self-portraits with old Vincent, the loom and other paintings from the time of his debut. My paintings of Van Gogh are being drawn to me, a past-modified man and obsessed with it, with a penchant for drawing and the rhetoric of stable values. I strived to establish a model of coexistence with a crippled Van Gogh, a Vincent who burns creatively in the vicinity of death and who sees the Way while suffering. I have often wondered if Van Gogh would have liked my description.
The painting with me impersonating Vincent preserves the vertical in three quarters of older pictures, the same discrete deviation from the symmetrical plane, but it increases the powers that the details are represented with. The head is bound up, the left hand describes an incomplete gesture and then disappears. The suppressed limb deeply heightens the ciphered meaning and summons it to show up more than the whole body does, untouched. Vaguely, a curtain hangs and it’s being trampled on. Several are invited to participate in the painting. Van Gogh is reflected by the memory of the bandages on his face and from the gestures that reveal the cause of his suffering, the injured ear. The curved, yellow-ish body reveals El Greco, the Greek painter from Spain. The portrait’s silhouette is emblematically accompanied by the presence of a ruin. A self-owned territory described in the context of Antiquity, of beloved places and artifacts of history. I have become like the owl of the ruins” he shouted!
I intended to paint something that includes a lot of bones. The bone as a ruin of the body, a splendid artifact and a clue for the Passage, but also the perfect engineering of the Creator. A structure for a design that encrypts the loss of the human being, but also the genome that can reconstruct it. Through death and Resurrection, a back and forth that the vision of Ezekiel grandly describes. The field of bones is the representation in which the landscape, described by each phalanx and cartilage, and propelled by the divine spirit becomes the protagonist of the painting. The carpet with bleached dry bones is the mirror that reflects my face drawing the self-portrait, as a reminder of the work When I paint I know I will die! from 2001.
Excerpt from the artist’s catalogue Bogdan Vlăduță – Quand je peins, je sais que je vais mourir.