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“The Ravine

“The Ravine” is one of the many art works produced by the great Dutch artist whose real art life spanned a period of ten years. It was painted in the post impressionism era carrying the theme of a landscape and the technique used was oil on canvas. It was painted in 1889, just a year before its creator Vincent Van Gogh died. In august 2007, more than 100 years after the artist’s death, an X-ray scan on “The Ravine” unearthed another of his paintings, “Wild Vegetation”(Digital Journal, 2007).

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Vincent lived in the years of 1853 to 1890 but surprisingly, his painting career lasted  ten years of his sunset years of life. As such a bulk of his works came to be appreciated after his demise and he never came to enjoy his fame. During his painting stint which started when he was already 20, he produced more than 1100 sketches and drawings plus 200 paintings. By the end of his career, Vincent had exhibited a host of artistic movements . Particularly, his prowess in capturing night time shadows and light with a lot of ease has continued to appal many people to date. For this kind of contribution, he is touted as one of the greatest artists to have ever been seen not only in his home country but also on the world scene. Even today, his works are still very popular with artists who buy them at very high prices. It is a pity that the artist never came to enjoy the fruits of his labor, only selling just one of his products. One place where you can find Vincent’s collections is the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam which also houses pieces from other renowned artists. There are other pieces attributed to Vincent placed at the Roller-Muller Museum in Otter in the Netherlands. 

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“The Ravine” is one of the clearest indications of Vincent’s abstractness, expressionisms and fauvism. Other works that can be said to be depicting the same kind of approach are “Almond Blossom” and “Saint Rummy”.  His emotional side and his use of colour to achieve this are clearly evident in this painting. It is seen here that he has an enthusiasm for colours but avoids red as much as possible. Here, he has managed to use monochrome schemes of colour  to achieve different values and intensities.

From this painting, it is clear that he has embraced the flame as his symbol. Everything in this painting from the vegetation, rocks, the river and the sky, has all been portrayed in the form of a flame. As the fire scorched him from the inside, he transferred this to the painting and the observer is burnt as well. As in several others of his paintings, Van Gogh has the innate ability to transfer his feelings to the observer.

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It is not entirely easy to choose whether to criticise or support the decision by Van Gogh to use the flame as his absolute symbol. It could have been a blatant intention or an automatic mental gesture. One thing is clear though, “The Ravine” is another proof that the writer had a unique touch and was not afraid to display this approach to the world. By the time of creating this piece, Van Gogh had already perfected his style of painting as all the forms are in amazing conformity. Perhaps due to his creativity and skill in “The Ravine” and several other paintings, the artist has been widely regarded to be in the same pedestal with another Dutch great, Rembrandt. The only undoing of Vincent is that his contribution was only recognised after his death and he did not make it big like some of his counterparts.

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