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When Wakefield investigated the East Hill Asylum, he met a patient on the grounds who was drawing pictures of natural scenes. He also had a few cardboard sheets that were covered in symmetrical ink patterns. He welcomed Wakefield and they had an amiable conversation. The man explained that his family, who were benefactors of the asylum, had him committed there, believing him to be insane. He bore his family no ill will, but maintained that they had simply mistaken his art for insanity.

He had a low opinion of the asylum's caretakers, referring to them as "brutes" and "animals." He accused them of having confiscated many of his drawings. He asked Wakefield to break into the asylum's archives and retrieve the drawings. He gave Wakefield a key to the archives, which he had stolen from a caretaker. When Wakefield returned with the drawings, the man thanked him and allowed him to take the inkblots.

The man did not recognize Alexandre's name, but he said that he had not been at the asylum for very long.

Comments by avecEdit

When the artist introduces himself, he says, "The light, it makes everything look different. You see, light touches things, soaks into them and changes their nature. It makes them shimmer or makes them die." He describes his work by saying, "I am not just drawing, my friend. I am trying to feel the light, to translate its power to the surface of the paper."

When Wakefield reviews the artist's pictures, he describes them as "watercolor paintings and drawings of different subjects: a tree, a vase with flowers, something that could be a portrait… but the colors are dispersed, shapes broken, decomposed and mixed in a whirl of bright flecks." He says that they are “the drawings and paintings of a troubled mind.”

These statements are similar to descriptions of van Gogh's work. I found a few examples online:

"Vincent van Gogh was fanatic about light. ‘Oh! that beautiful midsummer sun here,’ he wrote to the painter Émile Bernard in 1888 from the south of France. ‘It beats down on one's head, and I haven't the slightest doubt that it makes one crazy.’"
Paul Trachtman, Smithsonian Magazine (January 2008)
"There are virtually no simple, clean shapes of constant color."
Greg Clayton (Harding University)
"He distorted the shape of objects in order to communicate the intensity of his thoughts and emotions."
ArtsConnectEd

Also, some of van Gogh's most famous works have been of trees, portraits, and vases with flowers.

It has been speculated that van Gogh was mentally ill. In the late 1880s, he committed himself to a hospital at Saint Paul-de-Mausole. Schizophrenia has been one of the more commonly proposed diagnoses.[1] In the beta version of The Playwright, the sergeant in the asylum described himself as “schizophrenic.” (In the final version, the word was removed, possibly because it was anachronistic.) The artist might have also been committed to East Hill because he was schizophrenic.

Van Gogh had very little appreciation or commercial success during his lifetime, but today he is considered to be one of the greatest artists in European history. Early in the game, the artist says, “They take my drawings and they study them and they laugh, because my eyes can see the light and theirs are blind. But some day… some day everyone will understand.” When he gets his drawings back, he says, “Someday they will understand light and shape as I understand them.”

It’s true that van Gogh died a year before the game takes place. However, I don’t think that The Game Kitchen intends to avoid anachronisms entirely. As tkg_mat has stated, “We try to keep it non-anachronistic to our best, but sometimes need to take some ‘artistic licences’ to enhance the experience as a whole.” [2]

Another example of a minor anachronism is the set of inkblot cards. In Europe, people have been interested in inkblots for centuries, but (I think) it wasn’t until the 20th century that they were used in psychological studies. In 1921, Rorschach was the first person to suggest using inkblots to study schizophrenia.[3]

So, even though van Gogh died in 1890, it is plausible that he could appear in the game as a sort of easter egg. I noticed that the game provides extensive descriptions of the artist and his work. As far as I can tell, these descriptions do not directly relate to a puzzle or to the game's overall story. Therefore, I’m guessing that the artist is in the game in order to use van Gogh's perceptions of the world as an oblique comment on how people perceive the Veil and the Simurg. In my opinion, it’s pretty cool.

Comments by banis1aEdit

I don't think the artist is personally Van Gogh. Rather, if anything, he probably only resembles Van Gogh at best. That is, Van Gogh was merely the inspiration for the character of the artist, but we as the players are not supposed to believe he is actually Van Gogh.

Secondly, I think the added descriptions of the artist and his work just add to the atmosphere and genuineness of the game. We have to remember that people were often committed who were not actually insane. It is possible that going into such detail about the artist is the gamemakers' way of illustrating that just as many people were committed who were not insane as there were committed who actually were insane. I do not believe the artist is insane. I believe he merely sees the world in a very different way. I would not be surprised if the artist enters the story again as someone important, which is also another reason for the makers to give him such focus. In good literature, movies, video games, etc. nothing is given importance for no reason. The artist is no exception, in my opinion. The makers are too careful about creating throwaway characters.

ReferencesEdit

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