The last flash of van Gogh’s genius goes on display in Paris

Tormented, depressed, locked in an interior labyrinth built in Arles and in the Saint-Rémy asylum, in the bright south of France, Vincent van Gogh took refuge in May 1890 in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris. , in search of a cure through painting.

There he left the last flash of his art, 74 works painted in just two months that culminated his creative talent, an intense activity that for years was thought to represent the twilight of his genius, but an exhibition that opened this week at the Museum de Orsay in Paris aims to rehabilitate as another twist in the permanent creative experimentation of the Dutch painter.

“We want to show that van Gogh explored painting until the end of his days, that he was not in decline, that his Auvers period, although it was less colorful or happy than what the warm colors of Arles or Saint-Remy showed, was still concerned about moving forward, about opening new horizons,” explains the curator of the exhibition, Emmanuel Coquery.

Although the vitality is still present in the work, supported by colder colors, more present blues, Auvers was not the balm expected by the painter, who ended up shooting himself in the chest on July 27 and died two days later in the hostel of the town where he resided.

The great gallery of Impressionism has managed to bring together 45 of the works from that period, many of them almost exclusively on loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which had barely let them leave its walls until now.

“These very particular paintings, brought together, will give a vision that will surprise many who think they know Van Gogh,” adds Coquery about the exhibition, which will be open until February 4 of next year.

Greeted by the painter’s penultimate self-portrait, a well-known painting that accompanied him during his stay in Auvers, visitors will discover that his vigor was intact as was his talent.

From his brush came paintings that did not express his true feelings, Coquery believes, although the artist himself confessed that his return to the north, which reminded him of his native Brabant, initially made him hope for a cure.

“Auvers was a great source of inspiration. He was surprised, he did not expect so many new themes for him, the houses, the fields, the church, there are no other paintings of buildings in his work like that. He did not stop drawing, painting, he was a source of permanent inspiration,” says the curator.

But he barely painted beings, a sign that although the sadness he felt did not transfer to the paintings, his loneliness did, barely mitigated by a handful of friends.

Possibly Auvers did not cure his ills, but neither was it a turning point in his career, that of a self-taught painter who spent his life searching for the legitimacy that he never had as training and that he did not stop experimenting until his last breath.