So often in the world is creative inspiration borne of pain and torment. Unfortunate circumstances beset us all, but they can very much lead us to show flashes of genius and in some cases, evidence of artistic wonder.

Such would seem to be the case for Vincent Van Gogh. This supremely talented yet troubled Dutch artist was born March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. A career in art was perhaps not totally unexpected for Vincent, given his early exposure to artistic media: having left school early to make a crust for himself, he joined his Uncle Cornelis’ art dealership, Groupil & Cie. He then transferred in 1873 to Groupil Gallery, London, where he felt the influence of English culture, such as Dickens. Japanese culture and Eastern philosophies also played their part in Van Gogh’s approach to art.

Having spent his entire life blighted by mental and emotional struggles, art brought a sense of balance to his soul. Unfortunately, this passion of his was not enough to bring him success and fame within his own lifetime, nor was it enough to save him from his own demons: July 29, 1890, marked his death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was just 37 years old.

It is for this very tragic element to Vincent Van Gogh’s life that he has since inspired great admiration from art lovers across the globe. By channelling his torment into his artistic pursuits, those very creative masterpieces are all the more brilliant as a result. There is a strong emotional quality to his work, a key example being Bedroom in Arles (1888), which comprises of 3 near-identical depictions of Van Gogh’s bedroom. The sheer brightness of the work creates an almost cartoonish result.

A particularly awe-inspiring piece is The Starry Night (1889), presenting the viewer with a dark blue sky, in which can be found bright yellow stars and an equally bright moon, not to mention the silvery, swirling mists. “Ethereal” would be a good word to describe the nature of this work.

It is fascinating to observe the extent to which nature plays a part in Van Gogh’s work. Just a few of the plant-related paintings include Sunflowers (1888), Irises (1889), Poppy Field (1890), Almond Blossoms (1890) and Mulberry Tree (1889). Seeing nature in all its grandeur is inspiring; seeing it depicted in artwork as impressive as Van Gogh’s is equally as inspiring.

Van Gogh never found true artistic appreciation within his own lifetime. However, the sheer passion of his prolific output very much deserves appreciation in this day and age. The man himself would most likely be very pleased with the high esteem is held today, as he once commented, “As for me, I shall go on working, and here and there something of my work will prove of lasting value”

– Luke Mayo, Correspondent (Art)