Exploring Van Gogh Alive with PAOLITA

Back into an exhibition space

Like most of you, it had been more than 18 months since we stepped into an exhibition space, and what better way to start than with ‘Van Gogh Alive’, the four-month exhibition located in a remarkable 25,000-square-foot purpose-built marquee in Kensington Gardens. Running from July-September, the one silver lining offered by the pandemic is that London’s major attractions are far less congested than normal, without the usual hordes of tourists, you’ll have a better chance of being able to bag a ticket for this not-to-be-missed event.

The tale of Vincent Van Gogh is a tragic one. The artist who over the course of his career painted an estimated 900 works, only ever sold one painting in his lifetime. While only subtle allusions to the ear incident and Vincent’s tragic death are made in this delicate depiction, which avoids the more lurid aspects of the artist’s life, this by no means takes away from the emotiveness of this moving experience.

Instead, the focus is on his work, which is projected in exquisite detail, allowing viewers to examine his intense brushwork up close and personal, experiencing art otherwise kept behind glass boxes in museums in an, albeit simulated, but incredibly intimate way.

After entering the two major multisensory areas, audiences have 45 minutes of immersing themselves in Van Gogh’s life, discovering much about the friends and relatives who supported him, as well as learning of his worldviews and mental instability.

Shifting features of the artist’s paintings move across the screen like a ballet, choreographed over the 38 enormous screens to an emotive accompaniment of classical music which is as immersive as it is mesmerising. The addition of pertinent quotations from Vincent’s letters, really brings the event to life.

The Urania Look

Our Urania maxi shirt dress is a summer wardrobe staple, chic and elegant in any setting. From cultural days in the city to drinks on the beach.

An immersive experience

While this ‘show’ is no substitute for viewing the actual work the way the artist intended—this immersive experience should be regarded as something entirely different, rather than compared against the experience of seeing “the real thing”. Rather, we found this experience to be simultaneously, melancholic, soothing, escapist, nostalgic and exciting all at once. Not helping but to feel closer to the work of Van Gogh than ever, and instilled with a new appreciation for the artist’s work, and surely viewing it in an entirely new way the next time we walk past those famous sunflowers in the National Gallery.

Words and Images by Claudia Brinkworth