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"Vincent at Saint-Remy"

by Marc MacNair


II.    An Interview with Paul Gauguin (Sunflowers)

(After chatting about his life and early career

Gauguin is asked about Van Gogh and Arles)

mm: Was it Autumn. . .
pg:                                 It was in October
mm: How could you know. . .
pg:                                           You were going to ask
About Vincent’s dream of bringing all of
The artists together under one roof.
mm: An interesting metaphor but you
Cannot obsess enough to see all art
In yourself.

                    I would have been the first and
Van Gogh’s obsessiveness in favor of
His ideals made me seem reasonable.

mm: What would have made you even want to try?
pg: What would now make you think you understand
Enough of our motivations to see
What drove us? It was many years ago
And you can only look though younger eyes.
mm: I can’t think that and wouldn’t dare to try,
But I can understand you here and now.
pg: Yellow.
mm:                Yellow?
pg:                                And that is all there is.
mm: Of course, the house you lived in was yellow.
pg: Fittingly enough for "the yellow house";
The house was yellow, the sun was yellow,
The flowers were yellow in many shades.
He took yellow in through reflective eyes,
His brain ran it through his thin body like
It was something to be consumed like wine,
Bread, something not easily done without.
Vincent digested yellow, did not think
About it, but comprehended it, and
Managed to apply yellow to canvas;
Not pigment in some pale mockery of
Color, but yellow itself.
mm:                                          Is that why
Amongst his subjects you loved sunflowers
Most of all?
pg: I loved nothing more than Vincent himself.
mm: Yet you refused to let him paint you. Why?

I managed to paint portraits of myself
Which might widely be considered as "good,"
At least as far as others know the term.
Art is best, you see, when it captures truth,
Rattles its cage, enrages it, causes the truth
To reveal new aspects of its nature,
Creating a new truth out of what was
Thought to be absolute. What would it say
Of Gauguin if another could see more
Truth in his features than Gauguin could see?

mm: What did Gauguin see in Van Gogh's features?
pg: I saw not nearly enough to be sure
That yellow would be enough to save him.
mm: Surely you are a master of color?
pg: Is that what I am? Interesting how
Descendents view their fathers. I saw hues,
Did not attempt to recreate them, but
Filtered them through my understanding and
Tried to paint with my thoughts, not the colors.
mm: Yellow was your filtered view of Vincent?
pg: Yellow was, yes.  I wish I had seen more
Than yellow that night.
mm: Which night do you mean?
pg: (Gauguin shakes his head, laughs, doesn’t answer)

( I had many more questions but we would

Have to discuss them at another time.

The conversation ended with Gauguin

Breathing heavily, ordering absinthe,

Considering the glass, and rejecting

The familiarity it stood for.)

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