[July 21, 1882]
You really have to understand how I consider art. To reach the essence of it, you have to work long and hard. I want to make drawings that will touch people. Either in a figure, or in a landscape, I would like to express, not something sentimentally melancholy, but sincere sorrow.
In short, I want to get to a stage where it is said of my work: this man feels deeply, and this man is sensitive. Despite my so-called roughness, you understand, or perhaps just because of it.
It seems rather pretentious to talk like this, but that is the reason why I want to devote all my efforts to it.
What am I in the eyes of most people? A nonentity or an eccentric, or a disagreeable fellow— someone who has no position in society or will ever have one, in short, the lowest of the low.
Well, assuming that everything were exactly so, then I would like to show through my work what is in the heart of such an eccentric, such a nonentity.
That is my ambition, which in spite of everything is based less on anger than on love, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Although I am often in trouble, there is inside me a serene, pure harmony and music. In the poorest hovel, in the grubbiest corner, I can see paintings or drawings. And as if compelled by an irresistible urge, my soul goes out in that direction.