Despite a relatively short career, Vincent Van Gogh has created a striking body of work that still resonates with many of us. A new exhibition seeks to take the work beyond the canvas and to immerse viewers in the same feeling of freedom that has inspired this world of painting.
“Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” was created by Normal Studio based in Montreal. He is now in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center until September 19. Through 360 projection technology, new life is added and brought to life in Van Gogh‘s work to help guests become one with the colorful canvases.
Mathieu St-Arnaud is the Creative Director and Partner of Normal Studios, and he says the biggest challenge has been to present Van Gogh’s work in a way that offers a new perspective and a new connection for all audiences, even if he does not present them physically.
“The same kind of freedom that Van Gogh took with painting, we took some freedom with his paintings to say, ‘OK, how can we look at him differently? How can we enter into his world, his vision? “And we are starting to talk a lot about going beyond Van Gogh to meet Vincent”, explains St-Arnaud.
The exhibition goes beyond the archetype of Van Gogh as a tortured artist and instead focuses on how he saw life and where he saw beauty, according to St-Arnaud. “Especially during this pandemic, it’s a good lesson to find beauty where it is,” he notes.
St-Arnaud says Van Gogh’s painting style naturally lent itself to a 360-degree digital landscape – of the type of brightly colored brushstrokes and emphasizing a series of paintings.
“Already the paintings that he created we get lost, we do not feel the borders”, says St-Arnaud. “So working with matte painters and digital illustrators to create what he hasn’t painted and then animate it – there is already so much movement and vibration in his work that it’s easy to try to make it stand out a bit. “
The simple manipulation of the paintings still preserves the original aesthetic and intention without transforming them too much, he says. The projections simply allude to movement and add a bit of life to stimulate the imagination, explains St-Arnaud.
“Beyond Van Gogh” took only six months to develop as most of the tools for animation and projection projects have already been developed by Normal Studios.
“We have a lot of tips and tricks using a lot of preview tools that we’ve built. As the artists are actually working and animating, they can actually see the set-up, the scene and walking around in real time as they are working. so that they can verify several points of view, ”he notes.
St-Arnaud says Van Gogh’s artistic style inspired him and his team to push their own creative limits. “[Van Gogh] doesn’t really [think] conventionally he just did what he felt – it gave us a lot of inspiration to take some freedom with his job to try new things with what he did and try to see it differently and be a little daring, ”he says.
Beyond showing a different way of looking at Van Gogh’s work, St-Arnaud hopes that the exhibition will give people the opportunity to decompress.
“Art is a very personal process, and we wanted to give people the opportunity to take a break from their daily lives and actually look at his paintings. … What if people feel a little less stressed when they go out? from there they feel more relaxed, just a little bit – we have accomplished our mission, ”he says.