Vincent Van Gogh Exhibition at Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo, Japan

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STORY: I just finished watching Loving Vincent. If you're a fan of Vincent Van Gogh, then you should watch this masterpiece. It's actually the world's first fully painted feature film. Because i still have Van Gogh high up until now, i thought i should share with you my experience visiting Vincent Van Gogh Exhibition in Ueno, Tokyo last December 2019. 

The exhibit was held at the Ueno Royal Museum, tracing his short but well-lived career from Hague, through Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy and finally to Auvers-sur-Oise featuring over 40 of his masterpieces. What's particularly nice was that each painting was displayed together with his letters to his brother Theo, which made this exhibit even more personal. I particularly scheduled my visit to catch this exhibit because Vincent Van Gogh is one of my most favorite artists of all time. Getting here was not hard at all since the location is quite near Ueno Station, but coming from Shibuya it's quite far.


Photos were not allowed upon entry, which always bums me. Why? I left my personal belongings in a locker outside the exhibit hall, and proceeded after paying 1,800 Yen. I went in to enjoy seeing his masterpieces up close. I even took note of some of my favorites, and i carefully read the letters it went with it. Vincent was such a lonely soul, that i always see his painting as very emotional, and thought provoking. He was not celebrated during his time with over 800 paintings, and selling just one. Yet, he is known today as the father of modern art.  Imagine, he only started painting at age 27 and taught himself the arts. Long live his life, through his works. Here are some of his paintings:


Starry Night depicts a dreamy interpretation of the artist's asylum room's sweeping view of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Though Van Gogh revisited this scene in his work on several occasions, "Starry Night" is the only nocturnal study of the view. Thus, in addition to descriptions evident in the myriad of letters he wrote to his brother, Theo, it offers a rare nighttime glimpse into what the artist saw while in isolation. "Through the iron-barred window I can make out a square of wheat in an enclosure," he wrote in May of 1889, "above which in the morning I see the sun rise in its glory." Source

Self Portrait, 1889 is both more confident and more aggressive. It is a surly, almost rude and choleric face - as if the sitter had had enough of examining his features for signs of madness. There are deep creases by the nose and cheekbones, the eyebrows are thick and prominent, the corners of the mouth have turned down: it is the face of a man with no more time for friendliness. The snaking and swirling lines that denote the background are used for the person and clothing of the artist, too, and the restless rejection of harmony and tranquillity to which these lines attest sets the keynote of the subject's facial features: the need to deform and remake has created a new disorder in his physiognomy. The face is not so much meant to be coarse or angry as full of vitality, of the sense of the moment. Painter and sitter being one and the same person, there is (as it were) no need for the model to keep still. The picture is not a pretty pose nor a realistic record; rather, the face van Gogh is here setting down on canvas is one that has seen too much jeopardy, too much turmoil, to be able to keep its agitation and trembling under control. It is not, in fact, an unfriendly face. This portrait articulates vitality. And the approach is plainly incapable of idealistic posing. Source

To Van Gogh this picture was an expression of 'perfect rest', or 'sleep in general'. The bright, cheerful little room has become a field of rapid convergences, sharp angles, and contrasts of high color. The perspective vision of the walls and bed is as exciting as one of his deep landscapes, where we are carried headlong to the horizon. But in such a view with 'a rushing series of lines, furrows rising high on the canvas', Van Gogh found an expression of 'calmness, of great peace.' These surprising reactions permit us to see the spontaneous intensification of movement in his rendering of things. For his high-strung nature, the most relaxed perceptions were already charged and restless. But his feeling of repose in paintings so full of movement is also the outcome of a kind of cathartic process; by projecting movement into nature, he is relieved of tensions and wins a real peace. Source

Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of the most revered paintings by the Vincent van Gogh. It depicts Dr. Paul Gachet who took care of Van Gogh during the final months of his life. There are two authenticated versions of the portrait, both painted in June 1890 at Auvers. Both show Doctor Gachet sitting at a table and leaning his head on his right arm but they are easily differentiated in color and style. In 1890, the first version fetched a record price of $82.5 million ($75 million, plus a 10 percent buyer's commission) when sold at auction in New York. When accounting for inflation, this is still the highest price paid for art at a public auction. Source

Wheatfield with Crows is one of Van Gogh's re-created memories of the north, and is believed to be the last work of Van Gogh. In early July of 1890, Van Gogh travelled to Paris, alone, to stay with Theo and his wife Jo. Theo was in poor health and was having financial problems, which was an enormous worry to Van Gogh who was keenly aware of the burden he was on his brother and his family. In addition, the baby was ill and Jo too was suffering from exhaustion. Van Gogh returned quickly to Auvers but rapidly became severely depressed. Writing of this picture shortly before his suicide, Van Gogh conveyed something of its tragic mood: "Returning there, I set to work. The brush almost fell from my hands...I had no difficulty in expressing sadness and extreme solitude". Source

Vincent Van Gogh lived a very sad life. It's quite hard to control your tears seeing his works up close. A part of him will always live in the paintings, and that each was carefully and lovingly created using his imagination and great talent. Yet, his life was short-lived and tragic. I never cared that people would actually see me weep because if you've been studying his life, you know that it's only now that people get to appreciate him. People didn't get to know him better during his short life. Life was so hard for him. 

I could not count the number of items i bought at the souvenir shop - from postcards, prints, books, and a lot of trinkets. I have quite a collection of Vincent Van Gogh coffee table books, and a month ago, i bought his Funko Pop. The best souvenir, i guess, was this responsive touch screen where i got to have a animated Vincent Van Gogh picture of myself. This saved the day for me from the loneliness of the exhibit. 


I went outside, and stared at the trees around Ueno Park. The cold winter breeze was enough to comfort me from sadness. The only thing i can think of, is how to live my life to the full. A life Vincent Van Gogh never had. 

It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done. ”

- Vincent Van Gogh



Vincent Van Gogh photos and text sourced from here.

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