Trees & Undergrowth

Gogh, V. van (1887). Trees and Undergrowth [oil on canvas]. Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum.
This painting by Vincent van Gogh is one of several paintings of trees and undergrowth, a genre called “sous-bois” brought into prominence by artists of the Barbizon School and Impressionists.

This work use shades of color and light in the forest interior painting. Vincent walked into the forest for a close view. The painting evokes the trees and grassy undergrowth, the sky is barely visible, just a glimpse of sky sometimes penetrating the branches.

‘Rye’, last remains of a forest

Shishkin, Ivan (1878) Rye [Oil on canvas]. Moscow: The Tretyakov Gallery.
From the perspective of the forest A Rye Field by Ivan Shishkin evokes an ambiguous feeling. This is a great work of art, that in the first place. It contains artistically beauty, power and mystery in one. The powerful pines and the endless fields of golden corn give the viewer a colour palette, detail and dimension with a great realistic and an almost 3-dimensional experience. As if one is on the place of action, 142 years back in time, somewhere in a vast Russian landscape, in another time and in another life.

The second mind comes in though, that from forest perspective. As if I was the forest, speaking out. Was this painting an early warning that humans were heading to took the land, for rhymes and reason, and destroy the sheer beauty of the forest ecosystem and all life and lives within it. This painting really evokes two moods: that of romantic view and sheer beauty of composition, colour and craftsmanship and that of great loss at the same time. Strange how history can change perception. At least mine. ‘Rye’ is more actual than ever.

Government and City, Act I

Government and City, Act I. © Jack Kruf

If I would have been challenged to express how government interacts with city life, I would have painted this. Which I actual did.

It sometimes seems that ‘Imperial Blue’* government is thinking separated from and is acting disconnected with the ‘Snow White’* living world of city life and that it only exists in its own world behind a ‘Jet Black’* system world wall. The ‘Poppy’* city itself floats on the living world. There are moments when as a citizen and an inhabitant of my city I feel this way about the far far away goverment. It is this feeling which sometimes overwhelms me, sometimes.

*Pantone® colours.

View on Delft: ecosystem ‘city’

Vermeer, Johannes (1660-1661) View on Delft [oil on canvas]. The Hague: Mauritshuis.

This painting of the city of Delft, made around 1660, is from the master hand of Johannes Vermeer. More than inspiring. I would like to live there if I am honest. In the time machine of Professor Barabas. Boom. 360 years back in time. Feels this way. As a huge fan of Vermeer I gave myself the book Vermeer by Karl Schütz as a gift. The XL version. Last week I bought one of the last copies of this first edition. Happiness can be so simple and be found so easily.

With View of Delft Vermeer created an iconic image of the city for me: the city as an entity, as the ecosystem city. The overwhelming and overarching cloudy sky gives the city of Delft the dimension that it is part of a larger whole, nature. It puts Delft in perspective. It humbles. At the same time, the citizens in the foreground remind you as watcher that the painting is also about everyday life. It creates the image that the city itself is comprehensive and offers a higher dimension to its inhabitants. That of a place where you belong, where you can live, love, meet and work.

View of Delft is for me a holistic image in which Vermeer shows us the multiple layers of the ecosystem ‘city’: citizen, group, street, neighbourhood and city. In ecological terms he shows organism, group, niche, habitat and system at the same time. And that under the clouds of a much larger dimension, the sky, the world. A Masterpiece. It leads to the needand the want of further exploration of the city as an ecosystem.