Immersed in Paintings

Months ago, when I first read about the Imagine Van Gogh exhibition, I was keen to experience it. It was originally scheduled to be shown from March 27 to May 2, and I bought tickets for the family. Then, it was postponed for three weeks because of Covid-19 restrictions. Our tickets were transferred to the new dates.

Later, when the province did not reopen as expected, the exhibition was postponed again and I was given the option of waiting to see when or if the event would occur again or to get a refund. I chose to get a refund, and then I mostly forgot all about it.

Then, in the middle of July I read a news article that told me the exhibit, which had actually opened on July 6, was due to close at the end of the month. Since then it has been extended and will be open until September, but I didn’t know that until at the time. In any case, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision and bought a ticket for July 28.

I am so glad that I went. On first entering the exhibition space I saw lots of boards displaying information about the history of the art and the artist, an exploration of Van Gogh’s wisdom and mental health, and some explanation of the development of the exhibition. Then I entered the second space which is where the main event was taking place.

It is an amazing experience to place yourself into a famous painting. Several paintings, actually. The exhibition is a light and sound experience that bathes the viewer in the colours of the art. Even the floor you stand on becomes a part of the paintings. The pictures here don’t do it justice because it is a constantly changing visual and aural experience and photos can only capture brief moments. I thought about taking a video but decided against it because it, too, would fail to show the full effect of the images that are all around the viewers.

At one point, while I was standing beside one of the walls of images, I realized I was the same size as one of the brush strokes! That is when I started to think about being a part of the art, the role of the viewer, and the ways in which Imagine Van Gogh brings the art and the viewer together. If you get a chance to see this exhibition in your area, I recommend it.

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