Earlier today new midwinter festival Illuminate Adelaide announced its inaugural program, including immersive art experience Van Gogh Alive, a multi-sensory tribute to one of the most famous figures in Western art.
The internationally acclaimed show will bring Van Gogh’s post-impressionist masterpieces to life – using light, sound and fragrance – in a specially designed and constructed 25,000-square-foot immersive gallery called The Grand Pavilion.
The exhibition, which opens this June on a vacant lot in North Adelaide, will feature a wraparound floral exterior and a recreation of the Dutch artist’s famous painting Cafe Terrace at Night. The Grand Pavilion – created by Australian designer Anna Cordingley – also houses two immersive areas: the Sunflower infinity room, as well as a walk-through recreation of the artist’s iconic painting Starry Night.
The larger-than-life works will be accompanied by a musical score and light projections to give you the sense you’re walking into the paintings. As well as cinema-quality surround sound and dazzling lighting, fragrance will be piped into the space to further transport you.
It’s not the kind of technology that can (or should) be applied to every artist’s oeuvre, but Van Gogh’s bold colours and exaggerated brushstrokes lend themselves well to being magnified.
“The vibrancy of Van Gogh, his fabulous collision of order and chaos and his mastery of colour makes designing immersive environments in his wake a thrilling task,” Cordingley said in a press release.
The producers behind the show, Grande Experiences, have announced it will head to Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Newcastle after its Adelaide debut. The two-year multi-city tour follows a successful season in Sydney, after it was moved from Melbourne due to the Covid lockdown.
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most revered figures in Western art. The Dutch artist’s early work depicted the harsh realities of pastoral life and farm work in the Netherlands. Later on, following a move to France and heavily influenced by the artists of Paris and the vivid colours of southern France, Van Gogh began to develop a distinct style of his own, based around big brush strokes, bright colour and the way that light plays with – and distorts – perspective.
He became one of the leading lights of post-impressionism, a movement that bridged the gap between classical impressionism (seen in the works of Monet or Renoir) and more modern movements to come, such as expressionism or cubism. Van Gogh is one of the best-known examples of posthumous success in the art world; although his works now regularly set auction records, Van Gogh never found fame during his lifetime, and died at 37.
Van Gogh Alive has already toured the world, making appearances in Beijing, Athens, Rome, Dubai, Hong Kong and elsewhere. But its creators at Grande Experiences are Australian, so it’s a homecoming for the exhibition.
Van Gogh Alive will open as part of Illuminate Adelaide on June 23. Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Newcastle dates will be announced soon.