Kandelaa Official Logo White

This article is the written script of an episode from our podcast series: Kandelaa – Conversations.

( Bu yazı,  podcast serimiz Kandelaa – Conversations’tan alınan bir bölümün yazılı metnidir. )


The world might overwhelm the fragile souls.

He was of this sort.

Melancholy and depression had begun to arise during his early years, and aside from the sunflowers, starry skies, and his ear of great renown, they identified with the name of Van Gogh. He turned his face to religion or surrendered himself to drinking in the further chapters. It is not erroneous to say that his sense of reality had weakened over time, incrementally dragging him into self-destruction, but it’s worth reminding that there are many others to figure out than only summarizing him as a painter madman. 

Being one of the most popular artists, Vincent Willem van Gogh was born to a middle-upper class household in Zundert, the Netherlands. He used to be quiet and grave as a child, and not exclusively successful at school. Furthermore, Vincent was not exactly like the other many gifted people with their early ventures in childhood; it was not until 27 years later that he started his journey as a painter. His younger brother Theo, who was the managing art dealer of the leading Parisian galleries, would be his closest friend who would support him both emotionally and economically during the years ahead. 

Although it differs not much from its parent movement, Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction to Impressionism and was followed by relatively younger artists like Seurat, Gauguin, Cezanne, and van Gogh. Bright colors, sharp brush strokes, and impasto were the outstanding elements in his art technique. Quite an original way it was that he used to squeeze paint right from the tube onto the canvas.

Having looked at his oil paintings, one would possibly notice a characteristic style: thick layers of paint mixed with other different materials, from charcoal to pencil. This technique is what I previously called impasto,  an Italian word that means dough, mixture, and paste, referring to this type of thick layers painted on canvas. Palette knife cuts or brush strokes used to be more prominent after applying this method. 

Another significant factor that contributed to his style was a technique Van Gogh acquired by observing his fellow artist, Gauguin when the two were painting together at The Yellow House in Arles, France. Gauguin was painting from memory, and he inspired Van Gogh to practice it as well. Did it leave a considerable mark on his paintings? Well, one might say! That new method led his artworks to be less realistic and more intriguing, but then all the elements blended into his unique understanding. 

Since Gauguin is mentioned, it would be best to elaborate on the topic more. I had previously touched on when Van Gogh arrived in Arles (to start painting at the Yellow House) and this episode was not to remain as a solitary experience for him. Soon after his arrival, an idea stroke Van Gogh to assemble various artists at the Yellow House to create artworks altogether (and we should also attribute his admiration and respect to his contemporary artist – Gauguin). 

Gaugin would accept the invitation expectedly; since two brothers (Theo and Vincent) had played a significant role in his publicity in the Parisian art communities. 

The duo had different characters: Gauguin was more arrogant and dominant, whereas van Gogh remained humble and preserved the impression and the fantasy of placing Gaugin at the head of a new artists’ community. Gauguin had respect for van Gogh’s work “but appeared not to stand the Dutch painter’s odd behavior or show him difference without Theo’s influence.” (Bradley Collins, Biography). 

Vincent tended to remain more submissive against Gauguin due to his reverence and ideal, but the duo was competitive during 63 days spent together. Besides the contrasts in their personalities, working styles were also discrete from each other. Gauguin used to paint more steadily and systematically, whereas van Gogh was a swift-handed artist, finishing his canvas in a couple of hours.

 Considering that he was mentally distressed, Gauguin’s visit was momentous to van Gogh and evidently gladdened his heart by providing an aspiration worth pursuing. Still, the relationship kept deteriorating, and the departure of the irked French painter started to loom up, which spread an enormous fear to van Gogh. These men were already turbulent as two counterparts sharing the same house for “a purpose”, but such a possibility gave him an agitation. Probably, Gauguin had already left upon this event to never see him again.

He was deserted alone with the assaulting voices turning inside his head, which caused him to cut off his ear eventually. He bandaged the wound and presented it to a prostitute afterward.

The police took Van Gogh to the hospital the next day. After medical examinations, the diagnosis denoted that he suffered “acute mania with generalized delirium” (Wikipedia) [delirium can be caused by an alcohol crisis, especially for those who try to quit drinking habits, often bringing along certain symptoms like aggression, delusions, hallucinations (which van Gogh suffers), disturbed sleeping habits, disorientation (acute confusion that drags one to become unaware of surroundings), language distortion]

It is not that simple to blame Gauguin because of his departure, for Van Gogh’s conduct was clearly unpredictable. He was discharged from the hospital but had to visit regularly for examination, which enabled him to paint at the Yellow House again, although this unfortunate incident concluded his collaboration. Nevertheless, the two wrote some more letters to each other, and Gauguin did not give away the paintings they had once exchanged with van Gogh. 

Two years later, on July 27 – 1890, van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself in his chest. Though, the setting is not certain; it might have happened either in a wheat field (which is often said) or in a barn. Two doctors coincided with van Gogh and realized his horrible condition, but were unable to operate, for there found no surgeon with them. 

His death was not immediate, yet almost 2 days later, when Theo arrived and was beside him. Vincent van Gogh passed away due to an infection. In accordance with his brother’s conveyance, his final words were: “The sadness will last forever” (Wikipedia) 

Despite his delicate sanity, Vincent van Gogh was a fine person in essence; his soul was notoriously wounded, and his mental hindrance was a burden to him. With his genuine grasp of painting, van Gogh painted more than 2000 artworks in a decade and wrote nearly as many letters to different receivers. Those that are sent to Theo, for instance, can be read in the website archive of the Van Gogh Museum. 



to overwhelm (v): bunaltmak, yenmek, üstün gelmek…

aside from (prep): -den başka, dışında

renown (n): ün

to identify with (something) (v): (bir şeyle) özdeşleşmek, ilişkilendirmek

to surrender (v): teslim etmek, vazgeçmek

erroneous (adj): hatalı

incrementally (adv): adım adım

to drag (v): sürüklemek

self-destruction (n): kendine zarar verme

to figure out (v): çözmek, öğrenmek, halletmek

grave (adj): ağırbaşlı, ciddi

exclusively (adv): özellikle, yalnızca, sırf

personage (n): önemli kişi, şahsiyet

art-dealer: galerici, sanat tüccarı

venture: girişim

to differ from (v): farklılık göstermek, benzememek, -den başka olmak

to emerge (v): belirmek, çıkmak, doğmak, kurtulmak

relatively (adv): göreceli olarak

outstanding (adj): belirgin, dikkat çeken

to squeeze (v): sıkmak

charcoal (n): kömür, karakalem

previously (adv): önceden

prominent (adj): belirgin

to refer to (v): -e atıfta bulunmak, işaret etmek

to elaborate (v):  detaylı olarak incelemek, ayrıntısına girmek

solitary (adj): yalnız

to assemble: toplamak, bir araya getirmek

contemporary (n): çağdaş

contemporary (adj): modern, çağdaş

understanding (n): anlayış

intriguing (adj): ilgi çekici

publicity (n): tanıtım, reklam yapma

submissive (adj): uysal, alçakgönüllü, boyun eğen

momentous (adj): çok önemli

to gladden one’s heart: yüreğine su serpmek

aspiration (n):

worth (n): değer

to deteriorate (v). kötüye gitmek

departure (n): ayrılış

arrogant (adj): kibirli, küstah

to stand (v): ayakta durmak, katlanmak, daynamak

irked: rahatsız edilerek sinirlendirilmiş

to loom up (v): belli belirsiz görünmek, muhtemel olmak, zamanı yaklaşmak

turbulent (adj): çalkantılı, fırtınalı

counterpart (n): meslektaş, karşılık

purpose (n): sebep, gerekçe

to present to (v): sunmak

diagnosis (n): teşhis

to denote (v): belirtmek,  göstermek, ifade etmek

unpredictable: dengesiz, öngörülemeyen

to be discharged from the hospital: taburcu edimek

to exchange with (v): ile takas etmek

setting (n): olay yeri, ayar

to coincide with (v): ile karşılaşmak, denk gelmek

infection (n): iltihap

delicate (adj): hassas, nazik (durum), kırılgan

santiy(n) : akıl sağlığı

notoriously (n) (obsolete): aşikar

hindrance (n): engel

burden (n): yük

grasp: kavrayış (hem fiziksel hem zekasal), anlama, tutma