Arts & Entertainment

Van Gogh’s olive groves: a symbol of resistance for the troubled artist

By Imane Rachidi

Amsterdam, March 10 (EFE).- The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is preparing to unveil 15 paintings of olive groves created in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, southern France, while the painter was being treated at a psychiatric ward.

At first glance, they may all seem the same, but each work tells its own story.

Painted during different seasons and times of the day and from various perspectives between June and December 1889, Van Gogh was on a quest to capture nature.

“The olive trees are very characteristic, and I’m struggling to capture that,” Vang Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in September 1889.

“It’s silver, sometimes more blue, sometimes greenish, bronzed, whitening on ground that is yellow, pink, purplish or orangish to dull red ochre,” he added.

The exhibition features 15 paintings and 10 drawings that showcase the painter’s “intense personal and spiritual attachment to olive trees,” the museum said.

Van Gogh thought they were some of his best works created during his stint in the south of France, where he suffered from acute depression and psychosis.

He was admitted to a psychiatric clinic surrounded by olive groves and they became a symbol of resistance to the painter and conveyed reassuring feelings of eternity and unity.

“During this very difficult period for him, he found comfort and support in nature and in painting,” said the exhibition’s curator, Nienke Bakker.

Van Gogh started drawing trees as soon as he was allowed out of the asylum.

He became obsessed with the gnarly shapes and play of light and color of the olive tree leaves and was soon painting them in his characteristic style of loose brushstrokes and a broad color spectrum.

“This exhibition is the result of years of intensive research and is a rare opportunity to see this group of works together. These extraordinary paintings convey Van Gogh’s love of nature and his belief that art can offer comfort,” the museum’s director Emilie Gordenker said.EFE


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