Vincent Van Gogh traveled from a small village, Zundert in Netherlands, to Arles in France. He would have gone till Japan if he hadn’t found it in France itself ! His paintings however traveled all over the world. We traveled to Netherlands to see his paintings. The Van Gogh Museum at Amsterdam also had his letters and envelopes on display…some of those he had sketched on. In the museum shop we could buy anything. All of Van Gogh was on sale…the ‘Sunflowers’, the ‘Starry night’, the ‘Wheat fields under troubled skies’, the ‘Sower’ and… many more. We bought a couple of prints and lost the whole roll at the airport. Nevertheless, the experience remained; the flower market at Alsmeer remained, the sea at Scheveningen remained, the blue china of Vermeer’s Delft remained, the tree, wind and the windmills remained…while we traversed miles n miles of Vincent.
We wanted to do a book for Vincent. It was apparent it couldn’t be just words. A book on Vincent had to be an experience. It had to contain all the journeys we had made alongside all the journeys he had made and was still making. It had to trace all the track lines on the earth, all the footprints in the sand, all the smoke trails in the sky that simultaneously vanish and remain. It meant that we set out on another journey. It has been a long Time. But its also in this long Time that it has become the book it has. It has become, as we always suspected, much more than a ‘book’. It has generated many more little things around it… a couple of short films we couldn’t help dedicating to the moment.
We, at Seasongray tried to remember the book as experience. Apart from the main body of correspondence from Vincent to Theo, it includes a couple of letters to his sister Wilhemia and a small section of Theo’s letters to Vincent. The documents are between a lengthy introduction in the beginning and an appendix with some supplementary material, crucial to the experience at the end. It is conceived entirely within the grayscale remaining true to the ‘grays’ Vincent insisted on seeing the world in, with a dash of colour to remind us of the ‘colorist’ that he was moving towards. It includes a bunch of sketches and drawings that he drew in the letters to Theo while getting steadily deeper into his own journey with colour. A bookmark with the colour wheel of Charles Blanc that he began with, travels through the four hundred odd monochrome pages of his words and lines. It carries a small text on colour he culled out of the pages and pages of the history of colour, like yards of Dhaka muslin fitting into a matchbox!
We all know who Vincent was, apparently. This book will perhaps turn the lights from over the exemplary sufferer we often like to make of Vincent and his kindred lot to the vision and empathy, tenderness and simplicity that make their works what they are today, thankfully, despite the dominant notion of Art/spectacle. It must include everyone. We owe it to the people. However we could only do it in the language we lisped in. So we begin with the Hindi rendition and open it hence for all other language versions that its absence may be felt in.
January 2011, SEASONGRAY has come out with this book called Mujh Par Bharosa Rakhna, stemming from the one sentence that ended almost all his letters to dear Theo.
We also hope to link book lovers with the distribution of the books they love. The reader can become an active book lover or pustak mitra in Hindi, by talking about the book s/he likes to five other friends. S/he can also keep five copies of the book he likes of seasongray or any such small publisher in his own bookshelf, thus turning his little space into a ‘bookshop’. Its an idea some of our friends have been following. We like the idea for its ‘little’ness. And propose it to all our friends in turn. You may also like to take a print out of the poster below and put it up on a notice board of your school, college or institute library or any other wall where you want to carve a window!