to brother theo
Painting ought to be done at the public expense, instead of the artists being overburdened with it.
But there, we had better hold our tongues, because no one is forcing us to work, fate having ordained that indifference to painting be widespread and by way of being eternal.
In my picture of the the 'Night Cafe' I have tried to express the idea that the cafe' is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime. So I have tried to express, as it were, the powers of darkness in a low public house, by soft Louis XV green and malachite, contrasting with yellow-green and harsh blue-greens, and all this in an atmosphere like a devil's furnace, of pale sulphur . . . .
If he saw my picture, he would say that it was delirium tremens in full swing . . . .
I wrote to you already, early this morning, then I went away to go on with a picture of a garden in the sunshine. Then I brought it back and went out again with a blank canvas, and that also is finished. And now I want to write you again,
Because I have never had such a chance, nature here being so extraordinarily beautiful. Everywhere and all over the vault og heaven is a marvellous blue, and the sun sheds a radiance of pale sulphur, and it is soft and lovely as the combination of heavenly blues and yellows in a Van der Meer (Vermeer) of Delft. I cannot paint as beautifully as that, but it absorbs me so much that I let myself go, never thinking of a single rule.
I always think that poetry is more terrible than painting, though painting is a dirtier and much more worrying job. And then the painter never says anything, he holds his tongue, and I like that too.
It has been a magnificent day with no wind, and I have such a longing to work that I am astonished, as I did not expect it anymore.
I thought that there had been nothing wrong with me, but afterward I felt that I had been ill. Well, well, there are moments when I am twisted by enthusiasm or madness or prophecy, like a Greek oracle on the tripod . . .
Instead of eating enough and at regular times I kept myself going on coffee and alcohol. I admit all that, but all the same it is true that to attain the high yellow note that I attained last summer, I really had to be pretty well keyed up.
These last three months do seem strange to me. Sometimes moods of indescribable mental anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and the fatality of circumstances seem to be torn apart for an instant.