Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives.
What am I in the eyes of most people: a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person. Somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then. Even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion.
Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.
Vincent van Gogh - Peasant Woman Cooking by a Fireplace, 1885. Oil on canvas
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC:
This work was painted in Nuenen in late spring 1885, just after Van Gogh completed “The Potato Eaters” (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), in the same dark hues that reminded the artist of “green soap” or a “good dusty potato, unpeeled, of course.” Van Gogh was “convinced that in the long run to portray peasants in their coarseness gives better results than introducing conventional sweetness. If a peasant painting smells of bacon, smoke, potato steam, very well, that’s not unhealthy; if a stable smells of manure, alright, that’s why it’s a stable… .”