Planning on seeing the van Gogh exhibition this weekend? Do you realise that there’s two now on in London? Confusingly there is, and confusingly they’re quite similar (and beautiful), but not the same. See one or see both, but don’t rock up to the wrong one…
Photo: Van Gogh Alive
Van Gogh Alive, Kensington Gardens, Kensington
Set up in a purpose built structure right near the garden’s Kensington Road entrance, the pearl of Van Gogh Alive is the huge room with multiple large screens set up on which the troubled artist’s work is projected onto accompanied by a beautiful orchestral soundtrack.
In a kind of kaleidoscopic and dream-like way, the painting order loosely narrates van Gogh’s life, navigating the beauty and darkness in both his life and work.
More than 3,000 images are presented including his most famous works, Starry Night, his self portraits and Sunflowers, as well as a host of lesser-known paintings such as the ones inspired by his love of Japanese woodprints and several other floral paintings which are fairly spectacular when blown up, zoomed in on and projected on a huge scale across multiple screens.
Audience are welcome to walk around the space, sit or lay down while they take in van Gogh’s work from a whole host of different perspectives.
Before you enter the immersive room, there’s an informative timeline of van Gogh’s life and paintings which fill you in quickly on all the key facts.
On your way out, there’s the sunflower selfie room which is a small room you walk through filled with mirrors and artificial flowers, and people trying to capture the moment.
On until September 26; tickets from £29/£16.50 adult/child; Sunday to Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 9am-9pm; Kensington Gardens, East Albert Lawn, SW7 2AP; vangoghaliveuk.com
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Shoreditch
Much like the west-side exhibition, the real gem of this van Gogh fest is the large, cavernous room which has floor to ceiling animations of the artist’s work projected across the walls, and a starry sky projected onto the ceiling.
Again, the projections’ narrative charts van Gogh’s life through his works, but they also go off piste slightly, exploring and interpreting his mental health difficulties and darker times.
Again, projections are accompanied by a beautiful orchestral soundtrack and again, people are welcome to sit – this time on a deck chair – walk around or lie down as the animations wash over them.
There’s also a virtual reality experience that you can choose as an add on that takes you through van Gogh’s world and past key paintings, looking at where he took his inspiration from. If you can stomach it, it’s worth it.
While both exhibitions tap into van Gogh’s mental state, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience explores the fragility of his mental health more and clearly connects the dots between it and his art.
The exhibition section preluding the VR and immersive sections contains a short documentary which analyses Starry Night in relation to his mental health, as well as information on his series of sunflower paintings, top selling works and has dioramas of various things including his room at the asylum too.
On until February 2022; weekdays 10am-8pm, weekends and holidays 9am-9pm; tickets from £19.90 for adults; The Old Stable Yard, 106 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ; vangoghexpo.com