Hope Springs with Vincent
February 1888. Arles lies dormant, locked in suspended animation. Life paused, fastened in silent stupor, fixed in winter’s slumber, beneath sixty centimetres of snow. The coldest February for 28 years numbs Provence. The landscape waits. And footsteps in the snow. Van Gogh arrives, transfigures the bleakness, searches for blossom, ushers in the thaw. The herald of hope, fresh from painting side-by-side along the Seine with the Impressionists, carried in from Paris on a warming breeze. He softens Winter’s melancholy, paints the promise of spring. And spring sings from fourteen blossoming canvases, trills in plum and apricot, warbles in pear and peach. His brushwork flares and flickers, melting the biting frost, cheering the bitter chill. A rebirth in a confetti of pink, an awakening in creamy impasto. A comfort, a consolation in miniature bouquets, in copious garlands, that, one hundred and fifty years later, still speaks to the soul, still offers a desperately needed cheer.
For my dear Maddy Hamilton, who pointed out the Cherry Blossom