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Step into The Starry Night with this immersive Van Gogh art exhibition

The acclaimed travelling exhibition, ‘Van Gogh 360’, debuts in India, with its first show in Mumbai. Here's all that you need to know about this immersive experience

'Van Gogh 360' integrates people's visual, auditory, tactile, and emotional experiences. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria
'Van Gogh 360' integrates people's visual, auditory, tactile, and emotional experiences. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

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In traditional museums, there is an unfortunate sense of distance. As you take a stroll, the boundaries between people and the artworks become increasingly apparent. The carefully-hung works make you pause and admire them from behind a glass frame, but they cater to only one sensory  receptor: visual. But immersive exhibitions that integrate people’s visual, auditory, and emotional experiences have elevated the experience. 

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Digital technologies are increasingly being used to create a bridge between viewers and art, elevating the sensory experience and making the audience part of the display. In 1977, the first art immersive exhibition was invented by French photograher, Albert Plécy in Les Baux-de-Provence, in the south of France. He transformed an underground quarry into Cathédrale d’Images and used a new technique, Image Totale, to soak the visitors in an immersive presentation of his paintings, according to the Imagine Van Gogh.

More than two decades later, in 2001, Annabelle Mauger created the first immersive exhibition of post-impressionist Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, at the same venue. In 2017, Mauger along with Julien Baron presented a new upgraded version ‘Imagine Van Gogh’ at the Halle de La Villette, Paris. Following its success, the exhibition, designed and conceived by Massimiliano Siccardi, has travelled to Québec, New York, Buenos Aires, Quito, and London. On 20 January, it debuts in India with the first exhibition at the World Trade Center, Mumbai. 

A primer to van Gogh

As an artist, Gogh needs no introduction. His ‘The Starry Night’ can be found on journal covers, tote bags, and have even been transformed into costumes. There is certain familiarity with the painting that is linked with Gogh’s omnipresence in recent times.

The post-impressionist artworks, basically those that use colour and form more expressively, like Gogh, are vivid and draw you in with ease. This exhibition will introduce viewers to more than the sunflowers and restless nights. Without the traditional boundaries and rules, you are free to walk and experience the familiar and new art works, and most of all, demystify the man behind it all.

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The much-hyped immersive experience

The exhibition uses high-definition projectors to present floor-to-ceiling projections of about 300 of Gogh’s artworks, which come alive with animations in this 360-degree format. 

The massive projections that dance over the visitors are a unique way go beyond viewing art; the focus is on experiencing it. The exhibition has gained recognition across the world and even been featured in TV series such as the first season Emily in Paris

Background score

The art is accompanied by a musical score that elevates the experience. As the animations swirl and merge into one another, the rhythms stretch their arms and welcome you into the transitions. 

The music and animation is by a team assembled by Aquaviva Productions, a Canadian production company.

Bringing together technology and art

The generation— fascinated with all that technology can do—might thoroughly enjoy this unique blend of virtual and traditional art, a new way to experience artworks in an evolving world. According to the official website, ‘more than 12,000 images (huge, crystalline, and inspiring) transform each surface’ at the show. 

A first for many 

In 2017, ‘The Drifting Canvas’ which included projections of artworks by Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Claude Monet, and Paul Signac, was India’s first immersive art exhibition. However, the exhibition was held only in Delhi. ‘Van Gogh 360’ is travelling to Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi, and could be a first-of-its-kind experience for a wider population. 

So, let Gogh do the introductions and take you through some of his best artworks this weekend. 

The exhibition will be held at the World Trade Center, Mumbai from 10 AM to 9 PM, (last entry is at 8:00 PM) till 3 March. The show is wheelchair accessible and open for everyone over the age of four. 

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