What would Van Gogh think, if he were alive to see his art become light, and brought to life across the walls of a dark room?
Developed and presented by Grande Exhibitions, the artworks of Van Gogh have been recreated for the projector screen. The digital art exhibit which has graced Taipei since January has now come to Kaohsiung.
Visitors are welcome to leave their stress and fatigue at the entrance and have their five senses massaged by the multi-sensory experience that awaits them beyond a pitch-black veil.
The exhibit is housed on the 10th floor of the Shinkong Mitsukoshi Mall (Kaohsiung Zuoying).
A little encouragement given by Van Gogh is seen at the entrance.
Across the line-art of Van Gogh is an unlikely admirer. Carmaker Mercedes-Benz being kind enough to donate one of their luxury cars to be painted in the style of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’.
Truly an act deserving of gratitude, the departed artist would say.
The first leg of the exhibition could be considered a warm-up before the main act.
Here, replicas of Van Gogh’s most iconic pieces shed light on the ups and downs that wrought his life.
The Dutch artist took up the pen and paintbrush in his late twenties.
He completed over 2000 artworks, and then committed suicide at 37, after a life of poverty, obscurity and mental illness.
Van Gogh died having sold only one painting in his lifetime.
The Red Vineyard was sold for 400 francs, the equivalent of nearly NT$ 60,000 today.
He would never know that his pieces would one day sell for millions, and his name would have the same recognition value as Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso.
And now, visitors can even enter a life-size reconstruction of his composition ‘The Bedroom’, also known as the ‘Bedroom in Arles’.
For reasons unknown, any pose assumed on the furniture or props would immediately appear statuesque — the perfect image to post on Instagram.
The first exhibition space leads into a dark hallway. The first thing in sight is a card illuminated under a lonely light. The scent of flowers is the first stimulation.
The casual sniffer would probably go, ‘oh, the flowers smell nice!’.
True connoisseurs of scent might be able to distinguish hints of nutmeg, lemon and sandalwood among other fragrances.
The reason to see ‘Van Gogh Alive’ becomes apparent in the second space.
Walls bloom with flowers and people, betraying the post-impressionistic styles the artist is best known for.
The musical score adapts its tone to suit the images of Van Gogh which blink, fade, shift, and transition one after the other.
The classical music rises in joy as the paintings brighten, reflecting better times in the artist’s life.
On the other hand, morose notes accompany subdued, gloomy shades; they convey the instability and depression he had to grapple with.
Many of Van Gogh’s work artworks are shown in a story cycle that lasts around 40 minutes.
Only one word could describe his nature — prolific.
People sit more often than move in the darkness. They face the walls with the scenes flicking by, and point their cameras and smartphones in almost random directions to capture something only they can see.
During busy hours a good spot to sit becomes hard to come by. Such is the price of rapture and wonder at the life’s work of Van Gogh.
‘Someday death will take us to another star.’
The fate of Van Gogh is one no artist envies.
Better to be recognized in life, than to be celebrated long after one takes their final breath. To become a star in life, instead of being taken to one beyond death.
The final part of the exhibition ends with a drawing lesson. The interactive session is a crash course in human anatomy and body proportions. The artwork one creates on the easel can be taken home!
With the exhibition over, the souvenir shop is the final stop.
Copies of his most famous works can be purchased at a tiny fraction of what the actual works would fetch at auctions.
Various T-shirts, umbrellas and miscellaneous memorabilia are also available.
‘Van Gogh Alive’ is an evolution of the appreciation for Van Gogh’s legacy over time.
If only he were alive to see how his life’s work has not faded into obscurity, but rather has bloomed into the collective consciousness of human culture.
One could only dream.
Time: 7/1–9/27. 11am—8pm
Address: 10F Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A11 department store – No. 11, Songshou Road, Xinyi District
Standard Ticket: NTD 350
All images supplied by the author