Since Vincent Van Gogh is unquestionably my favourite 19th-century artist. I was super excited to find out about the Van Gogh Alive exhibition. The concept of this whole event was to present Van Gogh’s work using digital technology which sounded really innovative hence my expectations and the ticket price were equally high.
The exhibition was divided into two rooms. The first one contained a collection of prints with the most remarkable paintings as well as their descriptions, a short biography of the artist and a brief introduction to the exhibition itself. Oh, and the most surprising thing- there was also a life-size van Gogh’s room reconstructed according to the famous painting- quite a cool idea if you ask me.
The other, much bigger room was where the actual digital exhibition took place. The paintings were displayed on various platforms installed all over the show, on the floor, walls or the ones hanging from the ceiling. We could see all the major pieces of Van Gogh’s work divided into four periods of the artist’s life: Netherlands, Paris, Arles and Saint Remy asylum as well as some photographs and quotations. I liked the solution, it was the first time I experienced such thing but… it could have been done much better.
What disappointed me the most was that the pictures were changing too quickly. I read somewhere that these days in art galleries we look at each exhibit for only about 3 seconds so maybe the whole project was based on this concept but I found it really quite frustrating- before you managed to take a look at the picture it was already gone plus it was all about the choice between admiring paintings and reading quotations, there was absolutely no way to do both.
Another thing was a huge inconsistency between Polish and English quotations, sometimes the meaning of the sentence was completely different which felt rather confusing… and if we take into consideration original text being in French and Dutch that really makes me wonder how far from Van Gogh’s words we were. Plus quite a lot of minor language errors occurred in both translations, which still let you get the main sense but I found them a bit distracting in the whole experience, such things simply shouldn’t happen when we talk about the professional event.
To do justice to the exhibition, I have to mention its audio side- it truly was mind-blowing. The quality of sound was immaculate and all the music was matched perfectly to the atmosphere of Van Gogh’s paintings, I couldn’t ask for more.
My only regret is not visit the exhibition later in the evening as at 5 o’clock it was still full of very small children who, bored to death, were running and jumping on the platforms which made it really difficult to focus on the actual thing at times as the pictures were getting blurred and shaky. I mean… I’m not against the idea of taking a 4 –year-old to the art exhibition, actually I think it’s fantastic that there are still some parents who decide to get their kids interested in something else than just another silly game on their tablet but, in my opinion, there should be some special days/hours for families, with some organized tours full of activities suitable for certain age. Such solution would be beneficial for both sides- the little ones could have a great fun instead of just impatiently moving around waiting for their parents, and the adults could enjoy the full potential of the place without being distracted by the noisy gangs furiously jumping on the Sunflowers. Makes sense, no?
My other tip for those who still want to see Van Gogh Alive, despite of coming in the evening is: put some warm clothes on! Or at least get some Starbucks on your way as it’s freezing inside and the temperature still isn’t as low as you’d expect at this time of a year.
To sum up everything I have to say Van Gogh Alive is by all means overpriced. Ok, you get all that new technology with moving windmills and flying birds as well as the chance to see so many exquisite paintings under one roof but trust me, it’s not the comfort of a proper art gallery. You can definitely learn a lot about the artist himself and become more familiar with his work, but again, if you’re not an art freak already I wouldn’t expect you to become one after the experience. A wonderful idea with the final result sadly being very average.