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Gauguin and Gogh trapped in winter rain

Posted November. 30, 2019 07:42,   

Updated November. 30, 2019 07:42


Being trapped in a house due to weather conditions brings a sense of stifling, as well as unexpected tensions and pain if you are stuck with the same group of people for a long period of time. Close friends and even family members hurt each other when spending too much time together in a confined space with a set of behaviors that they have not seen from each other.

There are some days that people are stuck at home due to heavy rain or snow. These days it tends to be fine dust. It is soon December with winter in full force, yet people have more concerns about fine dust than cold temperatures for limiting outdoor activities in the upcoming winter.

There are two conflicting episodes that present wisdom on how to deal with situations where you are trapped indoor due to weather.

Two post-impressionist painters Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh had spent two months together in the winter of 1888 in a studio called the “yellow house” in Arles in the south of France. Gogh who dreamed of creating a community of painters for working on artworks and living together invited Gauguin whom he admired. Arles usually has over 300 days of strong sunlight per year but when the two had lived together from early November to December 23 it rained over 20 days. The painters focused on their work in the studio painting each other’s portraits and dedicating self-portraits to each other but started to have issues as they interfered in each other’s works. What drove a final wedge between the two was Gogh’s harsh criticism on “The Painter of Sunflowers” by Gauguin. Gogh went as far as to sever his left ear with a razor.

On the other hand two English romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley shared the summer of 1816 in the “Villa Diodati” in Geneva, Switzerland. The weather in the summer of the year resembled that of winter with cold rain constantly pouring, which confined a group of people, including the two poets, Byron’s family doctor John William Polidori, and Shelley’s wife Mary to the villa. Byron suggested them to write mystery novels. Rather than interfering in others’ works, they focused on creating their own pieces. While Gauguin and Gogh confronted each other and revealed their bare personalities, the group in the Villa Diodati avoided direct emotional and personality conflicts by indirectly communing with each other through individual works. The works produced by them in chilly weather were later published as Count Dracula and Frankenstein.

Some researches have been published on the correlation between fine dust and depression, and even suicide. Besides the medical mechanism of fine dust causing depression, it is the time of the year when people need wisdom in how to resolve tensions from spending too much time together at home. As the National Council on Climate and Air Quality recommends normal outdoor activities even when the fine dust level is “bad” (as in the range of 36 to 75 micrometers per cubic meter) in its “recommended behaviors regarding the fine dust level” released on November 11, it is better to carry on normal outdoor activities despite fine dust.