Using oil paint, it is a landscape painting which focuses on the postmodernism period. Having been extremely close to his brother, it is thought that he was inspired by life's symbols which is what translates through Willows at Sunset.
The painting does seem unfinished as it was done at great speed. Vincent van Gogh, later, painted another picture with pollarded willows being at the forefront which looks far more "finished". It is widely thought that Willows at Sunset was meant to look like the subsequent painting but didn't.
Willows at Sunset gives the viewer a dark and sinister feeling as the willows' spiky branches contrast with the smooth, arch of the sun. Speaking of the sun, it does somehow dominate the painting as it glows brightly and does look to have a greater concentration to detail on behalf of the artist. This sun seems have radiating, delicate strokes of bright paint coming from within, whilst the willows and grass around it seem have been painted quickly with sharp, careless strokes which lends a beautiful contrasting piece of art.
The willows used are extremely symbolic as they show the effects of time and environment - they look weathered and haggard but are still standing strong during the seasons and environmental changes. The willows are also visible in the distance as they stand in a strong line, again symbolizing strength and unity - a lesson that continues through each and every one of our lives.
It is thought the painting has a deeper meaning on that there is a bright future for us all. Notice how the bottom of the painting uses darker colours which slowly give way to brighter hues the higher up the painting goes. It could be deciphered as being symbolic of a human's journey through good times and bad. Although the painting will never change in terms of design, the audience can use the painting as a point of reference throughout life.
Painted in 1888, the use of bright colours against the subdued energy the piece gives, it really is a testament to van Gogh and is a perfect example of the genius he was. It's no surprise that van Gogh's work continues to be analysed and is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time.