Photography: Courtesy Tandem Expositions
Picture this: you’re lying on your back, staring up at a mesmerizing inky-blue sky that seems to wrap itself around you. A starry sky, replete with swirls of stars.
This is The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, an iconic painting that can now be experienced in a unique way: as all-embracing, all-encompassing, three-dimensional.
Such is the intention behind Imagine Van Gogh, an exhibition at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal that permits viewers to step virtually into the work of this celebrated post-Impressionist painter. Some 200 works by Van Gogh are projected onto surfaces as three-dimensional images, completely surrounding viewers and producing the sensation that they are inside or part of the paintings.
The immersive exhibition – created by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, who collaborated on similar shows in France – transforms the way viewers experience art. Traditionally, observers are not permitted to lean close to a painting in an exhibition, let alone touch it. Here, the space between the viewer and the work becomes seamless.
In such works as Starry Night, Van Gogh’s colours, textures and brushstrokes fill the walls, floors, and ceiling of the exhibition space. Viewers often lie on the floor and gaze up at images above.
The exhibition also transforms Van Gogh’s landscapes into endless spaces that expand into the distance. Sound and movement are added to animate the still-life images.
Accompanying sounds include music by various composers: Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Delibes and Satie. Each painting has a specific soundtrack that invites the viewer into the scene, contributing to the mood and emotional impact of the piece. The exhibition uses technology to push the boundaries of art and create awe and wonder in viewers. •
Imagine Van Gogh opens at Arsenal Contemporary Art, 2020 rue William,
Montreal, on December 5, 2019. For more information please visit: www.imagine-vangogh.ca.