The last two years of Vincent Van Gogh’s life proved to be an intensely creative period for the troubled artist – and it’s this clash between his art and mental state which is the focus of artist Barbara Stok‘s moving new graphic novel, Vincent…
The second in publisher SelfMadeHero‘s Art Masters series, Stok’s account begins in 1888 when Van Gogh leaves Paris for Arles in the Provencal countryside.
Any sense of stability Van Gogh achieved during this time was aided by his strong relationship with his brother Theo, who remained in Paris and supported the artist – emotionally and financially – throughout the rest of his life. Some of the famous letters which the two exchanged appear in Stok’s graphic novel.
There’s a kind of wide-eyed simplicity to Stok’s drawings – all block colours and thick lines – and the stunning landscapes of corn fields which inspired Van Gogh’s later works are given the same treatment.
Works such as Sunflowers and Wheat Field With Crows are all restaged in the novel, with Starry Night’s conception explored via another of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother.
The artist’s breakdowns are also treated with the same deftness, but Stok’s real triumph is to get the reader so on the side of Van Gogh that his struggle to establish a studio for himself and fellow artists – with help from Paul Gaugin – becomes very moving.
According to SelfMadeHero, future volumes in the Art Masters series will include books on the lives of Picasso and Dalí. More of Barbara Stok’s work at barbaraal.nl. Vincent is available from SelfMadeHero; £12.99.