Hiking Alps, Switzerland, in 2017, I found a family of dwarf sunflowers-the so-called‘Leopard’s bane’.
Back home, to my delight, I saw12 feet tall sunflower in the sunny Bagicha gardens of Uma & B K Dass; though the tallest sunflower, is known to have grown over 30 feet, in Germany.\
A commonality between dwarf and tall sunflowers is they both grow best in full sunlight. A young sunflower’s face follows the sun from sunrise to sunset and repeats the cycle until maturity.
Sunflowers are dynamic – they grow in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Each sunflower is umpteen tiny flowers. Teddy Bear sunflowers are bushy and spherical.
- That they track the sun- many people see the sunflower as a spiritual flower.
Well-known for being a happy flower to brighten one’s mood; planting them brings good luck and fills your home with a profound sense of safety and protection.
In China, sunflower symbolism extends beyond longevity to include good fortune, vitality, intelligence, and happiness.
All that- for those around me who grow, paint, and shoot the flower, but for Van Gogh*.
- Sad but true, at least, till the Dutch artist was alive. “The sadness will last forever” were his last words on his deathbed, though, at his funeral, his relatives held sunflowers in their hands.
Torture in early life, poverty, and mental illness haunted him. His approach to life darkened when his love was rejected by a London girl; he became lonelier.
Suffering from severe depression, he was left with part of his left ear chopped off. Diagnosed with ‘acute mania’ Van Gogh is said to have lived with mental illness – with symptoms of hallucinations. He died from an apparent gunshot wound in the belly, perhaps suicide.
Years ago, when I called on Babli (her nickname) – in her cozy cottage at Guncha, Dalhousie, she had been home after having lived for years in Germany. I wonder, if she had been painting the same copy of ‘Van Gogh’s Sunflowers’ that she has WhatsApped now; arousing my curiosity to know more about the Dutch artist.
Vimal Jeet is passionate about and possessive of her paintings; mature enough to control her brush strokes and balance the blend of colours. Her style evokes so many emotions. The artist lives in Dalhousie and Jallander.
To fully appreciate the extent of Van Gogh’s worship of sunflowers, I had to peep into the fragments of his short-life span, he died young at 37.
Together, the Sunflowers created by Van Gogh make up one of the most famous series of works in art history.
The first series, painted depicts the flowers lying on the ground, while the second set shows a bouquet of sunflowers in a vase; both in France.
Besides, the use of yellow in “Sunflowers,” the artist also features green, orange, and a touch of red and blue. In the ‘Mix Sunflower’ the color range spans from cream to lemon-yellow, gold, orange, bronze, red, and burgundy.
A large sunflower he had seen in a window near his gallery, inspired his first series of Sunflowers. The sunflower was thick, coarse, and imperfect, its sharp petals and its stem changing in appearance, swiveling with the movement of the sun. The” Rustic sunflower” with a peculiar beauty- that of the real countryside –that of real people.
Maybe, its bright color helped him feel better; he spent his days in the Netherlands, in Paris, or Arles.
Becoming one with the sunflower, he often lived alone in perturbed surroundings. Perhaps, he recognized himself in the sunflower, which he considered a magical living being.
Quite likely, for him the plant represented the different stages of life; it was no less inspiring when it silently disintegrated.
“The sunflower is mine.” Van Gogh wrote. He painted a total of five large canvases with sunflowers in a vase, with three shades of yellow ‘and nothing else’ There were a total of 11 works, one of which was lost during the Second World War.
The artist is remembered for his sunflower paintings and for changing the way people viewed a flower’s beauty.
- On Facebook, viewing the sunflowers – shot by Divya Duheta Mahajan, perhaps in Kashmir, is a joy. I love the mood she captured here. The renowned poet; lives in Srinagar and Jammu.
- Sunflowers of the Angelic Gardens are charming; attract butterflies and birds. Anuritais a great flower enthusiast; the writer lives in Shimla and Delhi.
- Sunflowers from ‘Kalatop rest house, Dalhousie; & the bunch of ‘flowers in a terracotta vase’ painted by Priya Monga, are art lovers’ delights. The fluency of brush strokes and soft mix of colours make the artwork att The artist lives in Dalhousie and Chandigarh.
Sunflowers are sun worshipers that grow best in spots with direct sun. You can still find sunflowers all over the world-from ‘below sea level’ to high mountains, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and from the Netherlands to the Himalayans.
*Vincent Willem van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history .wikipedia
Prof. (Er.) Chander P Mahajan is an art critic & a free lance journalist. The Environmentalist stays in Shimla and Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India.