The new big thing in town has just arrived at the Spark Arena. The Van Gogh Alive exhibition is here offering an “immersive” experience that is “unforgettable.” Prepare to be disappointed, though, as it’s a vain, impersonal, underwhelming experience. Its only purpose is to serve as the aesthetically pleasing background for an Instagram post or Snapchat story.
The exhibition has you walking through 3 different rooms; the first a brief history lesson on Van Gogh and his works which you could’ve done at home. The second, a 40-minute projection of his works coming to life in a “vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance.” They forget to add that this symphony is just his art projected onto large screens and that it also features advertisements shilling the event’s sponsors. Thirdly, is what you’ve seen all over social media: the Sunflower Room. It’s filled with cheap plastic flowers that perfectly captures the essence of this exhibition. Rather than finding “beauty everywhere,” it is an exhibition that robs people of what is most profound about Van Gogh. The intimacy of a small brushstroke and the existentialism a splash of green or blue generates is lost in catering to the digital artifice.
At Van Gogh Alive, the reflections of a Starry Night are no longer stars but rather camera flashes reminding you of how forgettable this supposedly “unforgettable” exhibit is.
“It’s a vain, impersonal, underwhelming experience.”