Friday, 24 January 2014

The Van Gogh Syndrome

One of the weird feelings that I assumed myself alone in having is the Van Gogh Syndrome. I swear I have no desire to cut off my ear; it has nothing to do with that. It's a feeling of insufficiency, of scarcity. You feel unproductive and unqualified. I thought no one else knew about it and it was just a few brain cells of mine gone mad. Then I came across an artist who had commented about it in some obscure corner of the internet, which, by the way, I have not been able to find since.

I don't know much about it; not many people know of it and even less confess to having it. In spite of that, the Van Gogh syndrome is possibly a part of many artists' psyche. (I make no claims; just speaking from experience). Consider a man who paints. He paints beautiful portraits of people and places. He is loved. His art is appreciated. Yet, when he lounges in his favourite chair, having sold one of his paintings for quite a bit of money, he starts feeling like he didn't do them. He feels like his art was inadvertent, happened by chance and that he has no skills at all. This... condition even goes as far as to lowering his self-esteem, driving him into an inferiority complex. All this will go on and on until he paints a new piece and puts it out for display. Once that is done and his new painting is appreciated just as much, maybe even more, he feels elated and happy and able... just for a while; then this wretched phenomenon strikes again. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Van Gogh syndrome.

I don't know why it is named that or if dear Vincent was a victim, but I do know that it shows itself in people who have associations with the arts: painting, music, writing, anything to do with creativity. It has something to do with the complex nature of art: there are no steps to producing something. There is no limit to what you can draw, or write about, or compose which subsequently leads an artist to feel that what he has previously achieved was accidental and there is a chance that if he sits back down at his desk with a paper and pen he won't be able to reproduce the results. Maybe it was only luck and a good frame of mind, or maybe a great inspiration that led him to be outstanding and maybe he just isn't good enough.

Poor creatures of creativity! We either suffer from arrogance, or we are agonized by this beast. It's the worst of any disorder you could have because it's not serious enough to require medical attention, and it's not disregardable. It does not render you incapable of producing good art, but it makes you feel lesser, menial, subsidiary.

I write about this so that I can come back to this and read it. So I can try to prove to myself that the reason I feel this feeling is because I AM good enough! Just so that I can stop me from doubting myself, so I can convince myself of my talents.

Oh, if Van Gogh could see me now.