Of all the Impressionist painters, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is probably the greatest rock star of the genre. An artist whose name and work are recognizable even among the general public who are not lovers of art, and whose rudimentary sketch of life only polishes his image (madness, poverty, suicide and this auditory appendix sent to a prostitute as a gift…).
Van Gogh’s work – of which he would have sold only one in his lifetime – curiously sometimes takes a back place in relation to history. But Van Gogh‘s art takes center stage in the breathtaking and sensory exhibition Van Gogh: the immersive experience.
“When we had the idea to create this Experience, we looked at a few artists. I was looking for a natural history. All the artists were great, but what makes Van Gogh particularly interesting are his colors. And he was partly color blind! says Mario Iacampo, CEO and Creative Director of the Exhibition Hub Producers.
“There is a wealth. Those strong blues and yellows and oranges. And a lot of the paintings showed large areas. It did [perfect] for this Experience.
In this digital journey, visitors can almost become a part of Van Gogh’s works themselves, and this certainly gives a different appreciation and understanding than a traditional gallery walk.
The centerpiece of Van Gogh: the immersive experience is in a room of several thousand square feet. As visitors sit on benches, cushions, Van-Gogh-decorated beach chairs, or even lie on their backs on rugs, a 360-degree panoramic projection onto 26-foot-high walls is broadcast via the video mapping technology.
During it, viewers see more than 300 Van Gogh works of nature and places in multiple images literally come to life in the animation and with the transformation all around. The constant motion animation has paintings that literally blend into each other in waves.
There are many self-portraits of Van Gogh throughout his life, as well as the actual characters he painted (there’s Dr. Gachet! Father Tanguy! Farmer Patience Escalier! And Roulin the Postman in crazy beard!). They move around often and “come to life” a bit like the portrait galleries of the Harry potter movies.
Even the lower floor is part of the show with projections from above. The 35-minute presentation is accompanied by booming classical music, sound effects, and a suitably Stentorian narrator occasionally uttering Van Gogh’s words (we recognize you, Jeremy Irons!).
“Van Gogh tells you what he was thinking, all the time. He wrote over 700 letters to his brother Theo, so we have his real words to tell his story, ”said Iacampo. “He would describe how depressed and dark he was in his life. But then he would paint Wheat field with crows and say ‘Everything I see is yellow, yellow, yellow.’ He helps you with his own story. And he only painted nine years!
It’s hard to describe the sense of transformation and the eerily compelling emotions this part of the show evokes. But this is by no means a triumph, a successful and unlikely union of oil paint, pen ink and computer programming. You don’t just see The starry Night, you feel the interstellar illumination as if it were real, but through the eyes of Van Gogh.
The show includes several other sections. In the first area encountered by visitors, a gallery gives details of Van Gogh’s life with timelines and reproductions of some of his most famous works on canvas (which unfortunately appear to come from low resolution images) .
The first indication that this exhibition is “different” comes in the form of a large bust of Van Gogh’s face onto which images of his work are projected in an ever-changing pattern. Likewise, a digital flower vase is full of examples of his work in this vein.
Another room presents 3D reproductions of some of his works. And yes, you can actually walk in and sit in the famous Room in Arles, precise down to the black lines on the furniture to make it appear as they do in painting.
In fact, much of the show is Instagram-friendly. There is also an art studio where visitors can sit while coloring one of Van Gogh’s works or create one.
The last stop of the exhibition walk will be a favorite with many, however. After donning virtual reality glasses while sitting on a stool, participants take a realistic 10-minute journey through the geography of Van Gogh’s natural world.
You “float” through the sets of several of his works: the house in which he lived, above the fields of wheat, corn and flowers of France, lush gardens and orchards, forests of olive trees. and cypress trees, along the cobbled streets while culminating in buildings and Tthe night cafe, former sleepy workers of Nap or watching the calm blue waters with boats under a sparkling sky. And of course, the Arles hospital where Van Gogh was imprisoned towards the end of his life.
Along the way, viewers stop as another Stentorian narrator (not Jeremy this time) provides atmospheric words as Van Gogh’s works arise alongside their larger virtual representations. Virtual reality isn’t very crisp, but realistic enough that I found myself repeatedly grabbing my stool to keep from “falling” down the stairs or into the water.
“It’s amazing how much more powerful perception is than reality. It doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself it’s not real or is not happening! Iacampo laughs. “Eventually you get lost.”
Iacampo estimates that Van Gogh created around 900 paintings and 1,100 sketches during his short life, noting that new authenticated works hitherto unknown still appear. He even had to change the exposure when it was determined by experts that the 1890s Tree roots was probably the last work the artist ever created, replacing Wheat field with crows in the exhibition with this recognition.
Nowadays, Van Gogh: the immersive experience has or will be presented in cities of the United States (including Miami, New York, Dallas, Seattle, Boston), as well as in Europe (Antwerp, Berlin, Brussels, Naples, Tel Aviv, London) and even in China.
Iacampo says that part of the challenge for the traveling exhibit that will appear in multiple cities simultaneously is finding adequate existing space to integrate it. And the most important feature needed? Walls. High walls. In Atlanta, the Experience is projected onto walls 45 feet high and 60 feet in Philadelphia.
He admits that Van Gogh: the immersive experience is aimed at an audience in the digital age who is interested in art, rather than the traditional walker or art gallery expert. And that the work of over a dozen computer programmers and visual artists who put together this experiment was crucial to making it a success.
And this show is not the only one to adopt the “immersive” approach. All different and competing Immersive Van Gogh is set to take place in Houston from October 14 at a different location.
Iacampo drops that Exhibition Hub’s next immersive experience will be on the life and work of René Magritte, with the cooperation of the Magritte Foundation (all of Van Gogh’s works are in the public domain).
As for Vincent Van Gogh’s story, it’s actually still evolving, and that could mean other future changes in the series. “I just saw an article a few days ago that said another sketch of him may have been found. And another painting, ”says Iacampo. “The story of Van Gogh is always Go!”
Van Gogh: the immersive experience is scheduled to run through January 2, 2022 at the MARQ * E Entertainment Center, 7620 Katy Freeway, in a space between Edwards Cinema and LA Fitness and and by O’Connors. VanGoghExpo.Com to purchase tickets and select a scheduled entry. $ 22.90 (children) and $ 44.90 (adults). VIP packages and experiences are also available.