London's private gallery Eykyn Maclean will start an exhibition this Thursday to explore Dutch painter, post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh's life between the years 1886 and 1888 when he lived and worked in Paris.
"We are interested in the period because it saw huge changes in the artist," said Nicholas Maclean, co-founder of the gallery who curated the exhibition.
Before coming to Paris, Van Gogh painted scenes of Dutch peasant life in dark, earthy tones in Holland. But in Paris, he was inspired by impressionists and neo-impressionist in terms of techniques and use of colou.
The evolution was clear from his eight paintings on display. An early one, "A Pair of Shoes, One Shoe Upside Down," was completed in the autumn of 1886 and still dark in color. "But he has got the red signature on it," Maclean said.
A self-portrait from Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag was one of Van Gogh's earliest self-portraits. "He couldn't afford to pay for models," said the curator. The areas of darker, tonal painting looked back to Van Gogh's earlier Dutch period, "But the colors in the face and hair was brighter. He has got the red head and ear."
"Wheat Field," on loan from P. And N. De Boer Foundation in Amsterdam, was painted in June, 1888, shortly before he left Paris to the south. Tired of his life in Paris, the painter wanted to return to nature.
Some of the key lessons Van Gogh learned in Paris were manifest in the paintings, like the bright palette of the Impressionists and the Neo-Impressionists' individual touch.
The exhibition also gathered works from some other famous artists whom Van Gogh admired while in Paris and who influenced him in various ways, including Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, Claude Monet, and Paul Signac, among others.
Pointing at the "Bank of the Seine at Asnieres" by Paul Signac, Maclean told Xinhua that Signac, a friend of Van Gogh who visited the latter later in hospital, appealed to him in the Pointillist technique.
Adolphe Monticelli was a painter Van Gogh admired and viewed as an heir to Delacroix. Montielli's work "Flowers in a Jardiniere" was hang side-by-side with "Bouquet of Flowers in a Blue Vase."
"I have made a series of color studies in painting simply flowers...trying to render intense color and not a grey harmony," Van Gogh said in a letter in 1886. Montielli's use of impasto and vibrant colors clearly had profound impact on him.
According to Maclean, Van Gogh was a collector of Japanese paintings while in Paris, which could be picked up inexpensively from shops selling oriental wares.
"All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art," Van Gogh once told his brother Theo. He later not only adopted the "flattening space and small figures in the foreground," as Maclean said, but also made some Japanese-styled paintings, like the "Bridge in the Rain: after Hiroshige."
With a career spanning no more than 10 years, Van Gogh was distinctive in his emotional honesty and bold color. The painter put an end to his legendary life by shooting himself with a gun, and died at the age of 37.
The exhibition is free of charge, and will last until November 29.