REVIEW: Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

This latest experience to arrive in London to allow visitors to immerse themselves in the work of the artist is surprisingly soothing but feels as though it lacks in depth in places.

Prepare to lose yourself quite literally into the work of Vincent Van Gogh in this new immersive experience, filled with sections that chronicle the famous artist’s work as well as a virtual interactive that takes visitors on a ten minute  journey through “A day in the life of the Artist” – all accumulating in a spectacular floor to ceiling experience that brings Van Gogh’s work to life.

Based at the Truman Brewery, this somewhat surprisingly soothing and at times poetic experience surrounds visitors with the sights of Van Gogh’s work while allowing his voice to shine through the entire show. For those who are unfamiliar with Van Gogh’s life it is perhaps more eye opening than for those who have a strong knowledge and understanding but equally it helps open up conversations about his work and allows you to experience it in a unique way.

Although billed as an immersive experience, the show doesn’t start off this way, with the upstairs sections giving a basic background to his work and life through a brief film and focuses on his famous sunflower images (which here are of course replicas) while an animation formed of several flower paintings is mesmerising to watch transform from one to the next. Elsewhere, there are opportunities to take plenty of pictures but it feels as though this part of the experience could have gone into further depth to give visitors a stronger understanding of Van Gogh’s working practise changed particularly given his serious mental health problems which led to him being placed into an asylum.

As you wonder around the show, the background classical music playing is suitably atmospheric to ensure that visitors are constantly cocooned in Van Gogh’s world. This soothing feeling of being immersed in this artistic world continues through a specially created VR experience A Day in the Life of the Artist that sees visitors being completely and individually surrounded by Van Gogh’s work while a poetic voice over just enhances the whole experience.

But the highlight is the final section in which floor to ceiling projections of his paintings surround you as well as (perhaps more chillingly) the idea of the walls of the asylum that he spent time in closing in on you – a powerful reminder of just how tormented he was in his personal life as well as being a talented artist. It is a stunning and thoughtful ending to an experience that is ideal for those who are curious about Van Gogh and in beginning to learn about his life and work in a unique way.

If you have ever wanted to immerse yourself in a painting then this is certainly something that you will want to experience – but it would have been ideal to have a bit more information availableto ensure that you leave it feeling more knowledgable. This being said, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience will leave you curious to find out more about the artist in your own way – a fascinating experiment to see how technology can be used to explore art in detail.

By Emma Clarendon

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is taking place at Truman Brewery until February 2022.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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