A major exhibition of the works of Vincent van Gogh has opened at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.The show entitled ‘The Man Driven to Suicide by Society’ is based on the writing of French playwright and theatre director Antonin Artaud, who wrote about Van Gogh ahead of the painter’s Paris show in 1947.Isabelle Cahn from the Musee d’Orsay gave us some background: “Artaud’s text is very interesting since it goes against all the perceived ideas on Van Gogh, and above all against a theory which appeared at the time of the diagnosis of Van Gogh. Artaud wrote Van Gogh was not mad. He was driven to suicidal despair by a society that rejected his work.”Artaud criticised Dr Paul Gachet, a psychiatrist who treated the painter. Rather than helping Vincent, Artaud claims Gachet pushed him over the edge.The Musee d’Orsay’s Isabelle Cahn said: “I think the emotions we carry with us are human emotions, not anxiety, it is artists that carry anxiety, the anxiety of the time, and we can see in them contemporary anxieties, but they show us how we can go beyond them in art and I think it can be a great help. It does not get rid of questions, which are human, or our aspirations, we just have to show them in the most beautiful way possible.”Van Gogh’s torment is visible throughout the show, for example in the tree trunks and quivering vegetation in the 1889 piece ‘The Garden of the St Paul Hospital’.
As Sunday’s referendum approaches, many in Crimea, which has a narrow ethnic Russian majority, are eager to move under Moscow’s wing.“It is the foundation of our lives. We were part of the Soviet Union. Now Russia is the heir to the Soviet Union and its policies are closer to that ideology that we knew,” said one man in the regional capital Simferopol.“They are fascists,” another said of Kyiv’s Independence Square movement, claiming far-right snipers killed those whose deaths were blamed on Viktor Yanukovych and riot police.But a substantial, if quieter, section of the population still prefers being part of Ukraine. “People who do not accept this military intrusion by Russia gather here,” said referendum opponent Irina Kopylova, herself an ethnic Russian, referring to the area around a monument dedicated to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.She claimed Sunday’s vote is “being carried out without any legal grounds”. “If the referendum was organised in the right way, with foreign observers and high-quality ballots, without fraud – yes, I would have taken part,” added Dmitry a university student who plans to boycott the poll.Some opponents of Sunday’s vote say they have been threatened by pro-Russian activists.Statues of Lenin have been toppled elsewhere in Ukraine but the Russian revolutionary leader still stands tall in Simferopol, venerated by many in Crimea who eagerly anticipate rule from the Kremlin.
Germany’s Foreign Minister has met his counterparts from the V4 Central European states in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, amid growing concerns over the Ukrainian crisis.Frank Walter-Steinmeier warned that the EU will be forced to consider further, financial sanctions if Moscow continues to reject efforts to deescalate the situation.“If things go as expected, then we will have no other choice but to impose stricter measures, but this is not anything we want to see,” he said.A third stage is likely to involve financial sanctions on Russian firms and entities, as opposed to measures aimed at individuals.Our correspondent Andrea Hajagos says the details of such actions will only be revealed on Monday in Berlin once the vote takes place in Crimea.
A vigil has been held in London’s Trafalgar Square ahead of the third anniversary on Saturday of the start of the Syrian civil war. The charity Save The Children says youngsters are the forgotten victims, with thousands killed. It says over 5 million children are in urgent need of assistance.And with more people fleeing the war, the United Nations has warnedthat Syrians are about to replace Afghans as the world’s largestrefugee population.