My favorite painter

My favorite painter is Van Gogh. I know, boring, unoriginal, but I truly did fall in love with his painting on first sight. I love art and art galleries, although I have never studied art. I just love being around it. Taking it in to my world. Allowing it to have its effect on me, unfettered by knowledge of technique or historical significance.

Most of my favorite artists, Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, and Matisse are post-impressionist. Strangely, I am not a fan of the impressionists. Monet and Renoir paintings have never moved me in any way. I generally like art that is more abstract, especially if it is printed art or sculpture. I can get lost in a good piece of abstract art.

I always loved Van Gogh. His life story is interesting, there is even a beautiful song written for him, and his paintings of Paris cafes blended into my love of the city. I never really liked his Les Iris or Vase with Lilacs, Daisies and Anemones. They seemed so out of sync with the rest of his work. Until, I saw one of them.

I was living in Ottawa, and I had a membership to the National Gallery of Canada. The special summer exhibit was Van Gogh’s Irises: Masterpiece in Focus. I had seen Van Gogh’s Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers and one his small Iris paintings that the gallery owns. My mother-in-law loved them. We even snuck a few photos.

Van Gogh’s Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers
Van Gogh’s Iris at the National Art Gallery, Ottawa

I was not as taken by them as she was. When the gallery announced the special exhibit, I was a bit disappointed that the focus was his work with irises. Until, I walked into a dimly lit, darkly painted room. Even the air felt perfect. There was one painting hanging gloriously on an expertly lit wall.

The painting was Les Iris (May 1889) on loan from the Getty. I swear there was life in the painting. I could see it. I could see the soft breeze flowing through the irises. I could see the dance of colour. It was mesmerizing. I could only stand and stare in awe of a painting that I had seen so many prints of before. Prints on journals and magnets and tote bags. Prints hanging on apartment walls. All just pretty prints of flowers, but this canvas with the strokes of a master was breathtaking in its depth of beauty, and I fell in love at first sight with Van Gogh, the painter.

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