Steven Dietz’s 2001 play, directed with a heavy hand by James Pelton, substitutes aphorism for dialogue and archetypes for characters in a pointless exploration of the painter’s life and work. The action moves back and forth between the contemporary studio of Patrick, a Van Gogh-despising blocked painter whose art-school mentor devoted his life to finding the artist’s legendary lost self-portrait, and Van Gogh’s own tormented last days. Patrick has agreed to create a fake of the lost painting for reasons that are less than convincing, and the two-act play devolves into a pseudo-intellectual exercise where actors fire off strained metaphors about Art and Passion and Color and Light at high volumes. The mentor maintains that Van Gogh’s work is about “the conjuring of absences”–and the play itself is running on empty despite Brian Sidney Bembridge’s eye-catching set. You’d be better off renting Lust for Life. Through 2/20: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3:30 PM. Bailiwick Repertory, Bailiwick Arts Center, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-883-1090. $22-$25.