“It would be easy to focus on the difficulties involved in making feature films but issues of finance, lack of time, finding the right path creatively, non-payment of monies owed to you, maintaining key relationships, these are nothing new to artists through the ages. If you want to understand Mozart or Beethoven then you need to understand how they coped with all five of those factors. Indeed it’s true of every artist we have featured in our 23 EXHIBITION ON SCREEN films that we have made so far. But the key, the absolute key, is to keep making art and to focus on the many positives that it brings. The past few months have been extremely busy and challenging for us in all sorts of ways but what I carry with me, what I choose to focus on, is the many extraordinary moments I’ve had in galleries, on shoots, in the edit suite and at screenings.
So here are five recent moments that come to mind…
Japonaiserie and Van Gogh: Influence of Japanese art on the painter’s style is subject of a new documentary.
Comedian Hannah Gadsby’s ground-breaking special Nannette, which aired on Netflix last year, left viewers feeling emotional – devastated even – because of the hard-hitting nature of personal stories she chose to share. One of these centered on taking anti-depressant medication as well as an audience member’s suggestion that she shouldn’t take it, because she “is an artist”.
A student of art history, Gadsby spoke about painter Vincent van Gogh who self-medicated and drank – even nibbled on paint. A medication he took for epilepsy included the foxglove plant as an ingredient, she explained, “…And that derivative of the foxglove plant, if you overdose a bit, you know what happens? You can experience the colour yellow a little too intensely. So perhaps we have the ‘Sunflowers’ precisely because van Gogh medicated.”
Apart from this tendency to see yellow more intensely, another aspect that contributed to the making of ‘Sunflowers’ is the inspiration van Gogh took from Japanese art – a lesser-known fact about the artist. The influence of Japanese art on the Dutch post-Impressionist painter’s own work is the subject of Van Gogh and Japan, a documentary by David Bickerstaff, based on an exhibition of the same name at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam….