Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890). After just ten years of painting and producing some 900 pieces of art, at the age of 37 he attempted suicide and died two days later. He sold one painting throughout his life, struggled with mental illness and remained poor and virtually unknown. It was only after his death that he became one of the most well-known and influential artists of the 19th century. Several of Van Gogh’s pieces have now become the most expensive paintings in the world setting records for prices of art.
Van Gogh was born exactly one year after his parents’ first son, also named Vincent Willem, was stillborn. He grew up watching his own name and birthdate already etched on his dead brother’s headstone. It isn’t surprising that as a child Vincent was highly emotional, lacked self-confidence and struggled with his identity. In fact quite often people who are born after death of their siblings are tormented by feeling of being a surrogate and often doubt in the real reasons of their existence. The questions and doubts as for the cause for which they are here undermine their natural right to be.
We will never know the subconscious thoughts and beliefs of van Gogh. Maybe by watching the headstone with his own name and birthdate he had a feeling of not existing at all. In both cases, using the terms of my professional background, I would say that he was suffering from lack of grounding (earthing) which means that even if he existed physically – mentally and emotionally he couldn’t really find himself here.
People who are not grounded (for different reasons) have a feeling of not having the right to be, have problems with finding or claiming their place, are tormented by suicidal thoughts, miss feeling of belonging, and being alive does not make much sense to them.
What does it have to do with his paintings?
The right to be is the basis for another existential right: the right to have (money, pleasure, love, possessions…); If the first one is not developed then the second one doesn’t work either – the power to manifest prosperity can be extremely limited.
So maybe if van Gogh was born in other circumstances or could solve his problem of grounding during his lifetime, which is possible in our times, his life would have taken another turn.
His younger brother Theo, who was his best friend and an art dealer, named his first son also Vincent Willem. The boy was born in the year when Vincent died after his suicide attempt.
He left this world taking his subconscious beliefs with himself. And somehow just then, his work became famous.