Undergrowth, 1889

When Jo van Gogh-Bonger saw this work exhibited in Paris, early in 1890, she immediately grew fond of it and she always gave it a place of great importance in her house. We can easily understand why, since ‘Undergrowth’ shows Vincent at work in his most controlled, yet exuberant style.

Every one of the brushstrokes has the tendency, by its very thickness and direction, to reflect light in a different way. If one wants to truly appreciate the tactile qualities of this painting, such as the rhythmic dabs of paint that cover the ground and the tree trunks, a Van Gogh Museum Edition acts as a gateway to the understanding of his style and emotional position at this time.

The loaded Brushstrokes of green, blue, black with white dabs give perspective to the vegetation of the ‘Undergrowth’. Still there is order in this sea of paint, just as when a water surface is rippled by a gush of wind. Although his mental condition did not allow Vincent to leave the walled garden of the asylum as yet, he was certainly able to find a world within his own confinement.
By Fred Leeman Former Chief Curator of the Van Gogh Museum 03-03-2016