Fantasy Conversation with Vincent van Gogh


Pygoya, 1980


Pygoya: Are you feeling better today, sir?

Vincent van Gogh: Yes, but how did you get here?

Pygoya: By air.

van Gogh: Oh. ??

Well, since you are here, what is it you wish to talk about?

Pygoya: How about your theories of art?

van Gogh: Sure. (1888) The imagination is certainly a faculty we must develop, one which alone can lead us to the creation of a more exalting and consoling nature than the single brief glance at reality - which in our sight is ever changing, passing like a flash of lightening - can let us perceive.

Pygoya: Yes, imagination or creativity must be fostered and developed to lead a quality life. However, not much of this is taught by our contemporary social system. Being a good productive citizen is emphasized in order to blind the young to the hypocrisies of huge and controlling bureaucracies. People are taught how to become consumers through a maze and constant diet of contradictions presented to the public as "facts." I am particularly speaking of commercials of competing brands, such as soft drinks, hamburgers, and underarm deodorants. There must be a behavior modification psychologist behind the scene of every successful product. The bombardment of all these contradicting scientific "evidence" confuses one's reality, and in my opinion, takes away available time and energy to develop other faculties of the mind - besides rational attempts to test the validity of opposing scientific claims (ex. "people prefer Pepsi over Coke in blind taste tests"). People remain artistic invalids and because this is the majority, get away with labeling the "abnormally" creative as "weird" or "maladjusted." As art psychologist with a background in counseling and guidance I aspire to someday develop a model and technique to instill imagination awakening or growth in others less fortunate - even if it has to be crude cookbook style for accelerated results - results that may lie outside the realm of art but applicable to the appreciation of life itself.

that "brief glance of reality" is what we scientist call the "AHA!" or insight experience. Yes, and like "self-actualization," it is ever changing and growing from the shoulders of prior "glances of reality." More pieces of THE system (universal) are identified and interrelated, which, in turn, leads to further investigation and quality to our present perceived reality.

van Gogh: Patches of thickly laid-on color, spots of canvas left uncovered, here and there portions that are left absolutely unfinished, repetitions, savageries; in short, I am inclined to think that the result is so disquieting and irritating as to be a godsend to those people who have fixed preconceived ideas about technique.

Pygoya: Yeah, I hate to be told how to paint too, or what the limits of art have to be.

van Gogh: (the Japanese artist) ... studies a single blade of grass. ... But this blade of grass leads him to draw every plant and then the seasons, the wide aspects of the countryside, then animals, then the human figure. So he passes his life, and life is too short to do the whole. ... I envy the Japanese, the extreme clarity which everything has in their work. ... Their work is as simple as breathing, and they do a figure in a few sure strokes with the same ease as if it were as simple as buttoning your coat.

Pygoya: Yes, it looks like the Orientals had a sense of "organicity" before we became aware of such a conceptual process and order in the Western World. (Organicity may be defined as "the awareness of the interrelation between systems and their components within larger systems so that behavior of the whole ensemble can be understood and manipulated." - Jack Burnham)

van Gogh: ... However hateful painting can be, and however cumbersome in the times we are living in, if anyone who has chosen this handicraft pursues it zealously, he is a man of duty, sound and faithful. Society makes our existence wretchedly difficult at times, hence our impotence and the imperfection of our work. I believe that even Gauguin himself suffers greatly under it too, and cannot develop his powers, although it is in him to do it. I myself am suffering under an absolute lack of models...

Pygoya: Will the state of the artist ever change? I think not, since it is the artist's duty to change things, specifically the social perceived reality and the status-quo of the times. The artist will always be viewed as a troublemaker.

In regards to models, I personally am developing one to 1) give me direction in creating art, 2) help me relate past, present, and future work as an overall developmental effort towards heightened creative insight and works, and 3) provide a cognitive and intellectual base from which to embark into further artistic exploration.

van Gogh: Sorry, but I've got to go deliver a present to a woman.

Pygoya: Thanks for your time and wisdom. Someday you will get your due.