Letters to Vincent #2
Re: View of the Sea at Schevingen, 1882
I once stood on the rocks overlooking a cove on the Central California coast watching the rough waves careen off a jetty, creating a cross current that exacerbated the more direct incoming waves. The resulting synergistic effect magnified the breaking waves, creating unpredictable, violent energy bursts. I see this same dynamic in your early View of the Sea. You caught the power and cross purpose of the waves, the sky, and the land by your rough build-up of underlying texture—a technique you were to deploy later in the south of France. You point out the poetry, and yes, that’s there too! The weight of the boat against the tossing surf, the flag on mast-tip blowing shoreward and the horizon pulling us beyond. You speak to the raw wildness, of the natural world outside, and to our human nature inside. We are layers of light and darkness, of heat and cold, of good and evil, and those layers within us careen about unpredictably. Sometimes they grow out of control.
Kendall Johnson writes and paints in Upland, California. He is the Director of Gallery 57 Underground, Pomona. Kendall is author of several non-fiction books on psychological crisis and trauma, and four books of poetry: Fragments: An Archeology of Memory; Johnson’s Pasture: Living Place, Living Time; A Whole Lot’a Shakin’: Midcentury Reconsidered: and A Sublime and Tragic Dance, co-authored with John Brantingham about Robert Oppenheimer. Vincent found him years ago and hasn't let go since.
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