Van Gogh visits Japan

Not many people know that Vincent Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese artists and had an appreciation for the aesthetic. He wrote his brother Theo, "I envy the Japanese artists for the incredible neat clarity which all their works have. It is never boring and you never get the impression that they work in a hurry. It is as simple as breathing; they draw a figure with a couple of strokes with such an unfailing easiness as if it were as easy as buttoning one's waist-coat."

An Evening Snow at Kanbara by Ando Hiroshige Circa 1840

An Evening Snow at Kanbara by Ando Hiroshige Circa 1840

When living in Paris, he copied Japanese wood block prints and developed his own style.  He was known to have many Japanese prints in his studio.

For this painting, I decided to combine my interest in Japan, especially Kyoto, and Van Gogh's impressionistic texture with a modern twist incorporating my own style.

I started with a white pencil sketch on a black canvas.

I gradually built up "chunks" of color, at this point the painting reminded me of some kind of "fruit cake" on a canvas.

Referencing Van Gogh's interesting use of perspective in such paintings as "The Night Cafe", and the "Bedroom in Arles," I tried to capture a more dramatic vanishing point based on my memories and photos of Kyoto during my trip to Japan in 2014.

Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh, Bedroom in Arles, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh, The Night Cafe, 1888

Vincent Van Gogh, The Night Cafe, 1888

My style tends to a bit bolder and more graphic so I added some additional drama and contrast to make it my own.

The final piece contains many layers of acrylic that were built up over a period of weeks.

Kyoto, 2015, 18x24" Acrylic on Canvas by Joe Bloch