SINGAPORE – Even if you have never seen The Starry Night or Sunflowers, you would have heard of Vincent van Gogh, the artist behind the paintings.
At Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, the works of the Dutch artist come alive in 360-degree digital projections on 10m-high screens at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
The exhibition brings together more than 300 reproductions of sketches, drawings and paintings that give some insight into an artist whose genius was not recognised in his lifetime. His father thought the man, who was born 170 years ago in 1853, belonged in an asylum.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience makes its South-east Asian premiere at RWS on Wednesday. To date, over 80,000 tickets have been sold for March to June.
This exhibition was not conceived as a conventional museum show. Exhibition director Natalie Hong says: “The experience takes away the traditional idea of art galleries and museums which could be intimidating to those unfamiliar with the art world.
“Instead, the experience reshapes the traditional idea of what a classic art gallery is and presents a means to learn about the life of van Gogh through storytelling and unique art representations.”
As an artist, van Gogh is intriguing: Before becoming a painter, he tried his hand at art dealing, missionary work and even hoped to become a preacher.
He suffered from depression and was often melancholic. As an artist, he was not well known in his lifetime. In a famous incident, he cut off his left ear after a heated argument with fellow artist Paul Gauguin.
In 1890, at the age of 37, van Gogh died of a gunshot wound that was widely believed to have been self-inflicted.
On show are his most famous works including The Starry Night and Sunflowers. These were painted in the last few years of his life when he lived in Arles in the south of France.
In this exhibition, a painting by the artist of his bedroom in Arles is recreated in an anamorphic, three-dimensional form, so visitors can walk into the artwork.
Van Gogh is often cast as the epitome of a misunderstood and tortured artist. With Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, what can also be seen is the joy he must have experienced, no matter how fleeting, while he was painting.
This is best experienced with the 360-degree digital projection of artworks on a projection surface of over 15,000 sq ft.
Ms Hong says that the presentation also shows how the artist created a particular series of works, such as his Sunflower series. “It details how van Gogh’s interpretation of sunflowers evolved through time from the day he started painting them till the last few paintings he did,” she adds.
This 40-minute looped presentation relies on state-of-the-art video mapping technology, and is coupled with projections on the floor to create the impression of being enveloped in the art.
While there are other immersive van Gogh exhibitions showing around the world, Ms Hong says that its virtual reality (VR) component – a multi-sensory experience that takes the viewer through a 10-minute journey on a presentation called A Day In The Life Of The Artist In Arles – is “one-of-a-kind”.
The Singapore edition of the exhibition, which takes up a total of 28,000 sq ft at RWS, will also debut a new digital presentation that showcases the emergence and evolution of woodcut art from China and how it spread to other parts of Asia including Japan.
Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese woodblock prints. When he lived in Paris in the 1880s, he made a painting of a courtesan based on a print by the Japanese master Keisai Eisen before moving to Arles in 1888.
This exhibition emphasises the influence of Japanese art and culture on the artist with the world debut of a smaller 360-degree digital projection called Japonisme. The organisers have also included matcha tea demonstrations and a Singapore-exclusive cafe, featuring van Gogh-inspired treats from Singaporean pastry chef Janice Wong.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience has sold over five million tickets worldwide since 2017 and has reached more than 35 markets globally. It has also been voted Best 2021 Immersive Experience by media firm USA Today readers, and ranked as one of the top 12 best immersive experiences by media firm CNN in 2022.
It is organised by exhibition curator, producer and distributor Exhibition Hub and integrated creative experiential agency H&B in partnership with live-entertainment discovery platform Fever and RWS.
Where: Resorts World Sentosa, B1 The Forum, 8 Sentosa Gateway When: Till third quarter of 2023. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11am to 8pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 9pm; Sundays, 10am to 7pm; closed on Tuesdays. Admission: For standard admission, tickets cost $15 for children and $24 for adults. VR Experience costs an additional $5 Info: www.vangoghexpo.com/singapore