The Choice to Paint

In the fall of 1878, Vincent Van Gogh left to evangelize the poorest miners living in the Borinage region of Belgium. For two years, it is in the heart of misery and in the bowels of the earth that he will decide his fate. Documentary by Henri de Gerlache with the voice of Tom Barman. A film that is part of Mons 2015 and the exhibition dedicated to the painter. To be seen on Saturday, January 24 on La Une at 10:20 pm or on the web following the “C’est du belge” special Mons et merveilles.

Henri de Gerlache’s film explores a little-known period of Van Gogh’s life and opens the hypothesis that his stay in the coal mines of Hainaut at the end of the 19th century had a strong influence on him, to the point of finding in what he encountered on a daily basis, the need to paint. The world of painting is not a discovery for Van Gogh, he knows the workings of it since his earliest childhood, but while he thought to turn away from it by committing himself as a pastor among the poor, he will rediscover his vocation as a painter in the Borinage.

Would the experience of darkness have given birth to color and light in Van Gogh? To evoke this, the director has imagined the Way of the Cross that was his stay in Borin through 14 stations sometimes linked to earlier moments of his youth; a tortuous path that Vincent knew before becoming Van Gogh. The focal points of the film are the letters written by Vincent to his brother Theo during this period. The only real documentary sources of this period, they were also put forward for their literary value.

It is Tom Barman (dEUS – Magnus) who immerses us in these writings by giving them a breath, an inspiration. We follow the reader as a guide in the footsteps of the letters he recites, in the places as they remain today. A contemporary interpretation to give a contemporary echo to the artist’s quest.