A Painful Song of Love (Van Gogh’s Last Day)

Seven paintings by Matteo Massagrande for a dramatic monologue by Marco Goldin

Vicenza, Basilica Palladiana
7 October 2017 - 8 April 2018

The show is on display in the last gallery of the exhibition path and it is included in the Van Gogh. Tra il grano e il cielo admission ticket.

Here are posted three of the seven works conceived by Matteo Massagrande for the exhibition Canto dolente d'amore. L'ultimo giorno di Van Gogh. Each of them are followed by comments written by Marco Goldin.

“A big green sea with the red of floating poppies”

by Marco Goldin

Matteo Massagrande has painted the silent red of poppies under cloud-white cloisters. And a green plain filled with wind, stretched to the extreme limit of infinity. Painting would seem able do nothing more than this: stretch out that thin line between earth and sky where the soul and the universe meet. It’s good to see the courage of action, and then discover it in the nascent image, springing from a secret, deep source. It’s good to know there are still painters who are not afraid to tackle the immense, and ultimately make a statement of love. Massagrande belongs to this scanty group, shy with words but bold when tackling first with the heart and then with the spirit, always doing it through the craft of his drawing and paint.
In the last weeks of his life at Auvers-sur-Oise, Van Gogh walked through plains and fields: fields of medicinal grass with poppies, then wheat fields under high blue skies, or cloudy skies with thunderstorms and showers. And sometimes in nature he saw the image of himself. He walked and painted, occasionally collapsing into his little chair, like a snail withdrawing into its shell. From that chair he watched the world, looked at it and breathed it in deeply, so that it would enter his eyes and his soul one last time, as it flowed wholly naturally. And, lastly, he painted this sharing of the universe. He made it the substance and texture of paint, he immersed himself in the earth and the sky.
Massagrande looked at the painter who was looking, and he painted. He painted the vastness of fields like a sea, laying over it the red shroud of poppies. But from a distance, so that they had the lightweight consistency of appearing. Those poppies are the transparent reliquary case containing not the body, which has vanished, but the spirit of Van Gogh. Many years later, a painter wanted to return to the scene through memory; he wanted to apply a seal, made, however, of air and light. A seal of silence in the vast circle of time, in its infinite dilation that starts from the fields of home. You don’t want to and you can’t go any further.

[Matteo Massagrande, “A big green sea with the red of floating poppies”, 2017 | mixed media on panel, cm 80 x 80]