“We’re so small, I’m so small. We have a lot of insecurity, anxiety, and everyone is so flawed. Art is a place where you don’t have to worry about those kinds of things. I think art is so important to me because it’s my only option left, really.”
If you follow the Van Gogh Museum on Instagram then you may have recently seen a post including this quote by Matty Healy from The 1975. At first, I was very excited to see this because it combines two favorites of mine, Vincent Van Gogh and The 1975. As I thought about it a bit more I realized the quote is perfect for Mental Health Awareness Month. I particularly liked the part where he says, “Art is a place where you don’t have to worry about those kinds of things” because this is one of the things that has always drawn me into studying art and art history. Art is this kind of release, whether you are creating it or looking at someone else’s art, you get to step away from everything for a moment and feel something else. For me personally, I don’t create art as much as I study it, and I love studying art history. I could easily get stuck in a museum all day and just stare at artworks, letting them draw me in and finding ones I feel I can connect to.
I like when you can look at a piece of art and feel something. You feel some sort of emotion or connection or even memory and suddenly you’re pulled in. I enjoy those deeper emotions or messages that some art has and how they can connect people on a deeper level. And even though some art can give off certain feelings like anxiety, such as in some of Van Gogh’s works, it’s not necessarily worrying about them that’s the focus, but rather being able to express them in art. When it comes to art you don’t have to worry about the insecurities, anxieties, or flaws, like Matty Healy says. It’s about creating and experiencing art in a way that releases those emotions, creating a connection between artist and viewer. The more you connect to people who feel the same way, the less worrying it seems.
Being that we’re also talking about Van Gogh here, and based on his own life, struggles, and career, I could 100% see Van Gogh saying something similar to the quote in the beginning. It also reminded me of a particular work of his, a self-portrait from 1889.
This painting was created after he had a breakdown and truly captures the energy and anxiety he felt. I have always been drawn to the quick brushstrokes he has surrounding his head and how they flow and spread out onto his shoulders. That in itself feels like the buzzing energy of anxiety. Now while it does include these types of emotions, for Van Gogh, as we know, this was a way to release those emotions out into the world in order to move on to the next. Painting for him was a way of coping and getting back on track. By expressing these emotions, art essentially allows the artist, or viewer, to free themselves from feeling something so heavily and connect to others who feel it too.
I thought this was perfect for Mental Health Awareness Month as art has the ability to start the conversation about mental health and realize the emotions that we all feel.