“Gogh this way,” a punny sign tells pedestrians on the concourse outside Vancouver Convention Centre, site of one of the region’s hottest tickets.
The waterfront venue plays host to a multi-month run of “Imagine Van Gogh,” billed as the “original immersive exhibition” of works by the famous Dutch artist.
It’s a “contact-less experience” during the pandemic, of course, with limited capacity and timed entries for the touring art show’s extended run, from March 19 to Aug. 29.
The French-made “Image Totale” projection system lights up a 25,000-square-foot area of the convention centre with more than 200 of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, “Sunflowers” and “The Starry Night” among them, from his most prolific period, 1888 to 1890.
Upon entry, near Douglas Copeland’s wonderful “Digital Orca” sculpture on Jack Poole Plaza, masked-up ticketholders are introduced to Van Gogh in a series of lit storyboards that tell of his troubled life. He suffered ill health, dated a prostitute, drank heavily, suffered from psychotic episodes, mutilated his ear and eventually shot himself to death at age 37.
Van Gogh’s legacy is a deep catalogue of post-impressionist paintings that have influenced and amazed generations of artists and art lovers.
In the main exhibit space, giant walls project Van Gogh’s paintings in tune with a classical music soundtrack of notable compositions by Prokofiev, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Mozart and others. With no benches in the hall, and sitting on the floor not allowed, viewers stand to take in the floor-to-wall show, if able.
The 25-minute loop features a dazzling variety of images – some static, some moving. And it’s all very moving, in quite an emotional way. The show is truly dreamlike, and rich in both colour and artistic detail.
What’s missing is context. A small screen should be employed to tell the viewer which painting is being shown and the story behind it, for those who want to know more. Another solution would be to have a QR code, or similar, that could display such information on mobile devices. Such a fix would add so much depth to this otherwise engaging art show, which is brought to Vancouver by Paquin Entertainment Group in partnership with Pascal Bernardin Encore Productions, Fimalac Entertainment and Tandem Expositions.
“Imagine Van Gogh” tickets are priced from $34.99 to $49.99, depending on age and arrival time, plus taxes and $6 service fee. VIP packages are priced at $99.99 for entry, a mask, poster and program. Kids aged three and under are admitted free, but must have a ticket, available online only. For more details, visit imagine-vangogh.com.