Van Gogh Alive
Royal Hall of Industries
September 18, 2020
Incepted by Bruce Peterson and brought to life under the helm of his entity Grande Exhibitions the name is not misleading: Van Gogh Alive is a multisensorial, interactive exhibition that set out to infuse art with a heartbeat and a pulse. After COVID-19 prevented the exhibition to take place in Melbourne as originally intended, Sydney was graced with the exhibition, which after having been shown in over fifty countries will be the biggest incarnation of Van Gogh Alive anywhere in the world.
The premise is to not only expose new audiences to art and make it more accessible and tangible, but also offer a new angle to look into the oeuvre of one of the most celebrated artists of our time.
Given timed entry slots, entering the experience with a group of people felt a tad more exciting than one might feel when embarking on a visit to the confines where Van Gogh’s art would normally be found. Easing the crowd into proceedings, the first interactive exhibit is merely a hint of what the next segment will unleash, which is where the magic and Vincent van Gogh comes alive in all its glory.
We are not merely talking about animated equivalents of Van Gogh’s painted emissions, but carefully curated and highly intricate digital footage, which is expertly serenaded by symphonies synched to accentuate the movements of the visuals.
Following the timeline of Van Gogh’s trials and tribulations from the joys of discovering impressionist and expressionist art and his early paintings, one is guided through the places he inhabited and the significance of the emotions and experiences each held – from the gritty context of his middle-class upbringing in the Netherlands via the vibrancy of Paris to Arles, where some of his most known and celebrated paintings were created, to the well-documented deterioration of his mental health and descent into depression, eventually culminating in the fireworks that is the animated version of “Starry Night”.
Framed by writings and thoughts from the man himself, the exhibition might not reveal anything ground-breaking new, but manages to create a lasting emotional response by offering the opportunity to be immersed in his art and having all five senses tickled in the process.
I specifically liked that Van Gogh Alive is not merely an exercise in showy technological gimmickry, but the sequencing and orchestration of all the multi-faceted individual components reveals a deep appreciation and understanding of Van Gogh’s art and significance at large.
Van Gogh Alive helps to ignite a spark, reduces the distance between the artist and the recipient in an engaging way and thereby creates a deep yet subtle connection to the urgency and intensity of his paintings.
photo from https://www.vangoghalive.com.au/