Being Van Gogh

Singapore 27th October 2011

The National Museum in Singapore has just opened its door to an exhibition of the great impressionist painters of the past century with many master pieces on display from masters like Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Gaugin and Van Gogh . The famous paintings are on show here from their original home in the famed Musee D’Orsay in Paris, France.

Not many painters painted the stars at night and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Starry Night over the Rhone paintings are probably two of the most famous ones. The inspirational paintings have been the subject of many poets and storytellers and most notably Don McLeans’ hit song: “Starry, Starry Night!

Now I don’t claim to be a Van Gogh (though we are both Dutch :)) but I think as lighting designers we all have a bit of Van Gogh in us. Lighting designers have often been described as painters with light and I kind of like that description. We take a light source and start painting the space with its light beams. The architectural envelope is our canvas and we paint with light to create dreams, moods and ambiance. That is why to me a lighting designer cannot really be an engineer. Lighting design is creation and imagination …it is said that Van Gogh painted the starry nights from memory, hence the paintings are also representing his (mental) state of mind, his feelings and imagination. This is an important thing as besides creativity we as lighting designers are also driven in our lighting solutions by our mental state, call it mood or even stress…

In Light Watch Van Gogh’s starry night paintings. The first is known as Starry Nights, the second as Starry Night over the Rhone.


Light Watch 191: Van Gogh’s Starry Nights

27. October 2011 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light and art, Light and inspiration, light watch | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. I have just heard a radio interview with a girl who was a) epileptic for the last 30 years, and b) has just written a book about it. She described how perceptions alter in the run-up to an epileptic fit, and when she heard that Van Gogh was an epileptic, her mind went immediately to “Starry night”, because it had struck her before that it was a painting of the “aura” that they feel before a seizure. I’m on this web site because I wanted to look at the picture while she was describing it in the light of her experiences.

    Her name is Terry Tracy if you want to look her up. Her book is called “A great place for a seizure”.

  2. Thanks for sharing your interesting talk! I think when you actually presenting an art work to the public, a good lighting design for it will make it look more vivid and stand out.

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