Sunflowers are only beautiful when they’re alive

Part of a two-part article series - arguing for the vandalism of Van Gogh's sunflowers

Arwa Mahmood
3rd November 2022
Part of a two-part article series - arguing for the vandalism of Van Gogh's sunflowers

I would like to believe that there is something metaphorical about van Gogh’s life and art that symbolises how we humans view worldly affairs: people only really care after a bad thing happens.

Recently, Just Stop Oil activists threw tomato soup on the famous van Gogh painting ‘Sunflowers.’ What strikes me as funny is people only really care about the inanimate sunflowers painted by someone who never lived to see their impact.

We need to start looking at the bigger picture and start caring about the actual cause. Let’s be honest, people will only view what the protestors do as an act of bravery when they take some value out of humanity falling apart. 

As humans, we are innately selfish because of our fast-paced lives and our problems. We are caught up in our problems till we see past real-world issues and focus on material objects that make us feel good for a short amount of time.

It doesn’t help that the news we see everyday desensitises and bombards us with images that isolate us from reality. We are encouraged to believe that "climate change isn't that bad", or that the protesters were being "over-dramatic" and "disrespectful" for caring about our planet. To that, I say no. 

It doesn’t help that the news we see everyday desensitises and bombards us with images that isolate us from reality.

Sure, the protests were conducted in a slightly distasteful manner but I think credit has to be given to their bravery for caring more than anyone else and helping humanity realises that without life, there would be no art and no legacy for our future generations. 

Furthermore, the painting had a layer of glass in front of it. Even when doing something culturally insane, the protesters were still peaceful and careful not to damage anything. Yet, the world will continue to demonise them.

As a society, we love to categorise acts of bravery as crazy until we physically see the damage in front of us and, rather selfishly, how it impacts us personally. Let’s face it, climate change exists and it is visibly having an impact on the world we want our future generations to inherit.

Without the world, things like art would simply not exist. Will we only ever care after everything in existence falls apart as the world ends?

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