Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Still Life

A few days ago I noticed a print of a Van Gogh painting that really caught my eye, and it reminded me of an experience that I had once while touring the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I was enjoying a leisurely stroll through the Museum, taking in painting after painting, when I turned a corner and was suddenly met by familiar sight.  It was Van Gogh's Still Life: Vase with Ten Sunflowers. 

Although I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by artwork, and although I had seen prints of this particular painting many times, there was something different about viewing the original painting.  All of the other paintings in the gallery seemed to fade away for a moment as I fixed my gaze on the sunflowers in a vase.  It was a still life that made time stand still, and I could feel the stillness.  I imagined that even the tormented artist felt a similar stillness as he completed his painting. 

The sunflowers themselves are somewhat tangled and chaotic, and many brush strokes are characteristically rough, but even now, as my eyes move from the top of the sunflowers to the name "Vincent" at bottom of the vase,  I can recall that moment of stillness, and be still.