Today I continue with my two part article on van Gogh’s stay in Provence. The second part covers the period he stayed in Saint Remy de Provence. Van Gogh was admitted to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Remy de Provence in May 1889. Saint Remy is a sleepy village 15 kilometers away from Arles. Upon my arrival I realized that there is a fully functioning mental hospital in the premises of the old asylum. Access to the premises is restricted, so no luck there. However, in a nearby building complex, that is more or less as it were 150 years ago, I found an environment and aura that trully moved me.
Vincent van Gogh was a very sick man when he was admitted to the asylum. He confessed to his brother Theo immediately after his admition that he is “a broken pitcher”.
I have read contradictory statements regarding the professionalism of the asylum in treating the mentally sick. In any case, I saw the regular instrument, the bathtub with its cover so that the patient (or victim) would be unable to free himself from the tubwith only the head and the palms sticking out.
Whatever the case, another sure sign of the restrictions was the window. A window with iron bars.
The bedroom is spartan, in many ways reminiscent of the Arles painting.
The bed is different, but the chair and the aura is the same. As as the aura of the corridor, simple, frigid and leading to eternal emptiness.
It is not coincidental that the patient wanted to paint the corridor.
Antd then there is the external world. The opening, the exit, the escape, only to return more intensely to the dark interior.
It is nice to be outside the confined space.
During the day…
and during the night …
you even have the chance to lay your eyes on a human being…
in your memories that haunt you… but prisoners always return to their inner yard
and pray for the sower to come ….
Van Gogh was not cured in the asylum and in less than one year’s period, moved north, to a small town near Paris, where he was to meet the Redeemer.