Perhaps the reason artists feel compelled to deal with painful subject matter is to release themselves and others from its grip. It is an act of sympathy. Suffering does not happen in vain. There is comfort in shared misery, and the knowledge that someone has survived it. The sufferer is no longer alone. Perhaps this is why people love the blues, and why the tragedy of Vincent Van Gogh is so fascinating. Van Gogh suffered from anxiety, absinthe addiction, and seizures, but suffering gave him insight, and that insight gave the world Post-Impressionism.
Furthermore, the painter Frida Kahlo found fame by incorporating the tragedies of her life in her work. The pain was both physical and emotional. As a teenager, she survived a traffic accident, and then suffered chronic pain, thirty operations, miscarriages, and an amputation of her leg up to the knee. She had a turbulent relationship with her unfaithful husband, Diego Rivera, whom she divorced once and married twice. Though she was a figure of charm and glamour, what she offered was her