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.

“He is seated under a tree near a wheat field”

by Marco Goldin

Matteo Massagrande has painted a crumpled rag in the shade of a large tree. Like a freshly fallen leaf that hasn’t had time to dry up. It has the green of the unexhausted torment of sap still flowing incessantly. Just like blood which always, inexorably leads to the heart. The grass shakes, the light is iridescent and hushed winds slip into the space between the sky and the wheat, and then into the cracks of the shade. Fate arrives with the evening light. In the exact intersection of evening with the world, that point which is universe and spirit together. This is painting that shows life slipping away, not in a single blow, but rather in the story of the painful ecstasy of the last song, a self-ostension, the body washed by molds and dews and the singing of cicadas.
Massagrande painted the last hour not only of Van Gogh’s existence but also of the world. With his head bent on his shoulder, it is almost a seated crucifixion, abandoned but no less painful for that. It’s not Calvary but a wheat field at Auvers. It’s not Good Friday but a Sunday night when the sky is clear and some thin shadows begin to lengthen into the wheat field. There is no division, no fracture, because the painter’s jacket is the same color as the rough bark, his pants are the green of the grass, and his hair has the precipitated red of a sun setting in the fields. Like a silent, suspended cocoon, his body is precariously balanced between being and disappearing. With the light just touching at some points, and at others, clotting and thinning out.
Because all that concentration of life and broken dreams – the foliage of the wood isn’t closed in but opens up wide as it spreads to the horizon – is gathered in the now folded wings of a moist butterfly that pales in the belly of evening. Painting Vincent van Gogh under the last tree of his life, Massagrande painted a collapsed flight of clouds in the sky, where the stars will appear. He sealed the spirit like a breath that will never die. He assigned colors and lights to this transmigration that wafts in the smells and scents of silence.

[Matteo Massagrande, “He is seated under a tree near a wheat field”, 2017 | mixed media on panel, cm 80 x 80]