Big brush strokes New Van Gogh exhibition uses animation to immerse viewers in Dutch master’s works
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/07/2022 (199 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Think about how Vincent Van Gogh would react if he came upon a giant projection of his 1889 self-portrait beamed onto a six-metre-high wall in a room the size of a town square.
Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
• RBC Convention Centre, Hall D
• Opens Thursday, to Sept 4
• Tickets: $39-$44 for adults, including fees, at vangoghwinnipeg.com
Then imagine what the tempestuous 19th-century Dutch master would say when he saw that same image of himself blink.
That surprise is one of many twists on Van Gogh’s famous works in Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, which opens Thursday at Hall D of the RBC Convention Centre and runs until Sept. 4.
The show builds on the success and creativity of Imagine Van Gogh, which creators Normal Studios from Montreal and Winnipeg producers Paquin Entertainment Group brought to the convention centre in September 2020.
“It’s a different show,” says Justin Paquin, a producer with Winnipeg’s Paquin Entertainment Group, one of the partners behind Beyond Van Gogh and several other video-projection art shows that are touring cities in North and South America.
“The last one was based on traditional Van Gogh images displayed on the murals without very much animation… (Normal Studios) took the approach of what Van Gogh would have done if he had today’s technology and how would his art be interpreted… beyond what you see into something new.”
Greater use of animation creates more dramatic transitions between Van Gogh’s paintings. One presentation slowly recreates a Van Gogh work from the most basic of sketches into one of the vibrant scenes that made him one of the world’s most celebrated artists.
The original Van Gogh show opened at the beginning of COVID-19’s Delta variant wave, and the exhibition’s run ended just a month later, after the province increased restrictions on public gatherings.
“We’re so happy for it to come back. We had brought the first show nearly two years ago and at the time we were happy to celebrate bringing arts and culture to Winnipeg during a time of despair,” Paquin says. “Once the show got cancelled because of COVID, there was such a disappointment… so we’re happy to bring this show back to our hometown.”
No such pandemic restrictions exist for Beyond Van Gogh two years later. Timed-entry ticketing helps prevent overcrowding in the massive 30,000-square-foot viewing space and mask use is recommended, rather than being mandatory.
Another change in Beyond Van Gogh is the show’s soundtrack. While familiar classical works such as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons remain as accompaniment to the images, more modern tunes have been added, such as music from the Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water and jazz, such as Miles Davis’s softer trumpet solos from the 1960s.
The combination of art, music and the space sparked an innovative new way to enjoy the exhibition. On weekend mornings in August, time will be set aside for visitors to bring their mats to the convention centre and practise their yoga with instructors from Modo Yoga and Peg City Yoga amid Van Gogh’s art and the musical accompaniment. The price is $63, including fees, compared with a regular weekend ticket that costs $44.
Normal Studios and Paquin Entertainment are touring two other immersive shows that could make their way to Winnipeg. One focuses on the paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet and another takes a deep video dive into the discoveries from the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy-king of ancient Egypt.
The 100th anniversary of the discovery of the pharaoh’s tomb takes place in November, but Paquin said it might be 2024 before a video presentation of the famous antiquities arrives in Winnipeg.
“It’s been a phenomenal ride,” Paquin says. “At one time we had 13 different cities open at the exact same time. It was a really big team working very hard to make that happen.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.