THE VAN GOGH @ PARIS
After a long time, I write about this experience. I think consciously and unconsciously, I have tried to suppress this particular experience I felt at Paris. And I think that is primarily because I simply could not make any sense of what actually happen! And that is simply not me, if I can’t attach meaning to a human experience, I feel lost, empty, stuck in a black hole and that is not how I want to experience anything. Feeling empty while I was watching “The Van Gogh” was the last thing I had expected. But, now I know that something very radical had happen inside me and that is what I hope to capture here, hence, this piece.
Last year, I went to Paris and the primary reason was because 5 of my students were showcasing their art for the first time internationally. And the second other motivating factor was the one show that I was simply dying to see — the Van Gogh Showcase at the Atelier. I had heard so much about it and me being such an ardent admirer of Van Gogh, I could not wait to walk through those doors and be able to see his paintings come alive through projection and movements within a space where one could be enveloped and soaked in those pieces. Well, that was how I had imagined it but most things in life are quite far from imagination.
I remember walking in through those doors with a lot of excitement building up inside of me. As the show began, I walked around trying to capture as much as I could and trying to stand in places from where I could get a 360 turn-around. While it started I remember that I was seated on the floor and then I started to feel anxious that I may be missing out since so many projections were playing at the same time. So, I chose to walk around. I remember very clearly that while I walked and started to absorb each and every detail, I started to feel a sense of total despair. I also felt a strong sense of anxiety and panic which started to accelerate while I noticed the drops of projections melting under my feet. I also felt a strong sense of my body almost breaking into pieces and being scattered in that space. I was simply unable to contain myself. I could not understand why my senses felt so overwhelmed post which I almost had an out of body experience while bits and pieces of me were being almost pulled into the various spaces where my favorite pieces of his art were being projected. It felt like something ripped my heart into a million pieces and I was allowed only one choice — to simply be scattered and pulled apart.
I was unable to even finish the show and walked out 5 mins before the show ended. I do not think my words really do any justice to how I really felt. This experience haunted me for months and I kept wondering what really happen. And as I am intrinsically built, I do not know rest unless I know for sure. I started to built time and spaces in my house which are neutral energy zones and tried to revisit that moment in my mind. After many visits, I realised that the many years I poured myself into Van Gogh’s books, his pencil drawings and also the letters he wrote along with many books which extensively elaborated on his process and his mental processing — had come alive in that moment for me. I was overwhelmed by watching all his work come alive in this manner. The visual drama only blew an already exaggerated piece of art into something that completely took over and I simply was unable to find myself to even sustain the kind of connection I wanted. I am upset with myself that I was trying to be so controlling about this experience and upset that I had built up an imagination even without understanding the power of that moment. I am also upset that like the run of the mill I wanted a positive and ethereal experience. Psychology researchers found that the pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat. Embracing your darker moods can make you feel better in the long-run. And yes, while the mantra of positivity is all over, we must also remember that it is not human to always be positive only.
I am happy that yet again Van Gogh broke me down and taught me the authenticity of ‘simply being in a moment and allowing that moment to crush you and over run you’. I am grateful that yet again, I was taught that control is simply an illusion and the more we try to hold on to it the harder we will fall. I am grateful that I was made to surrender my senses and me to that very moment and the visuals that took me into this journey that I knew was filled with pain, despair, passion and a sense of abandonment. I am grateful that Van Gogh made me connect in the way that he meant it to be and not the way I probably was hoping for it to be. I am grateful that I am in awe of this master and I am grateful that he has taught me this lesson again in my life. In a point of my life, when I thought that the sky is the limit, I was literally lifted up to those blue blue skies and then swooped straight down into the yellow sunflowers amongst the hay and the swirling dark skies in the right with thinking stars and the deep brown boards of his room on the right. What a surreal experience. I do not expect anyone to understand it, for it’s so unreal. I thought I knew but I was simply an illusion!