By Roger Childs
This is not your typical art show with original paintings, plenty of written analysis to absorb and loads of people filing by. The Van Gogh Alive exhibition at the TSB centre in Wellington does has some of that traditional approach at the start and then you step into a technologically visual wonderland.
The “room” is about half the size of a rugby field and contains walls and display screens –perhaps 25-30 of them – up to six metres high and eight metres wide. For about an hour, large scale images of an incredible range of Vincent Van Gogh’s art work flash across these surfaces complete with many of his observation on art, life and love, e.g. I would rather die from passion than from boredom. Then are even two areas of the floor which feature the changing visuals to the delight of small children.
This amazingly comprehensive visual feast of the Dutch artist’s portfolio is complete with music and appropriate fragrances, and follows his phases of styles and subjects from the early years in the Netherlands to his final months in Provence. You can wander around the huge room or just sit and observe the constantly changing images. Because the visuals are graphically magnified you can appreciates the incredible skill of Van Gogh’s brushwork in conveying figures, faces, landscapes, interiors, trees, flowers and buildings. Another fascinating feature of the show is that elements of some paintings like birds, clouds, lights and stars twinkle, glitter and move.
His style cannot be simply categorised and has elements of expressionism, fauvism, cubism and abstraction. The closest anyone else has come to his “style” is Paul Gauguin.
Van Gogh only sold one or two paintings in his time – he completed about 1500 – one went for 200 francs. If you find one in your ceiling or basement it will probably fetch 20,000,000 (Swiss) francs today.
(Van Gogh Alive runs through until January 31 at the TSB Centre on the wharves in Wellington, about a 10 -12 minute walk from the station. You can book online or just turn up and pay at a counter on the premises.)