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Here's our review of the Van Gogh 360 experience in Mumbai

Updated on: 23 January,2023 11:36 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Tanishka D’Lyma |

The most-awaited immersive art exhibition makes its debut in India. Here’s our first-look review of the Van Gogh 360 experience

Here's our review of the Van Gogh 360 experience in Mumbai

A self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh at the exhibition

The January tickets for the Mumbai chapter of Van Gogh 360 are almost sold out despite the show opening only last Friday. The popularity of the event, making its debut in India, rests on the fame of the artist himself. Vincent Van Gogh, the 19th Century post-Impressionist painter, is a pop culture phenomenon. And on the first day, Mumbai stormed the venue to interact with his work.  Mark Monahan, the event’s executive director, notes, “Part of the show’s popularity is that people like art but don’t always find it accessible, and this  show is a bridge for people of all ages.” The show was filled with people across all age groups, from senior citizens and college students to families with young kids. We decided to head to Cuffe Parade’s World Trade Centre for a glimpse of the artist’s masterpieces. 

A screen showing The Starry NightA screen showing The Starry Night

The show takes place in an outdoor tent and begins with panels of backlit paintings overlaid with text at the entrance. The vibrancy and vigour of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes are most evident  through the panels in this part of the exhibition. We suggest taking a long pause to soak in their vibrance before entering the main hall. The show didn’t have any accompanying pamphlets or reading literature, which usually adds to waste. Instead, the text on the panels succinctly chronicle the artist’s life and works to help viewers better appreciate and understand aspects of the paintings. After moving through his story, you approach the main part of the exhibition — the 360 degree projections.

A woman stands before the panel screening of Irises by Van Gogh at the exhibition in World Trade Centre. Pics/Sameer MarkandeA woman stands before the panel screening of Irises by Van Gogh at the exhibition in World Trade Centre. Pics/Sameer Markande

Once inside, you don’t need to go around the room since the projections are repeated but can park yourself facing one or two walls to enjoy the show. The entire walkthrough and screening should take you from 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

A screen of Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr Felix Ray with descriptive textA screen of Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr Felix Ray with descriptive text

The hits

As soon as you step into the tent, you’re greeted with an instrumental soundtrack that makes for the perfect ambience. The main event is a room of projections on all four walls and the floor. The show moves from portraits to flora, to still life, comprising different elements of paintings that are animated and merged with each other. This was our favourite aspect, and it helped to build a relationship between the works within Van Gogh’s oeuvre. These dancing elements not only highlighted details but were also meditative. Paintings like Almond Blossom had the tree’s flowers twirling around on the screen, The Potato Eaters were dining, and the characters from Noon - Rest From Work were lying near swaying boughs. The whole show is quite immersive; it’s easy to lose yourself in the expansive paintings.

Mark MonahanMark Monahan

The grand finale was, of course, The Starry Night, which began with a large yellow crescent on a black screen illuminating the darkened room. Then the stars come out, orbs of light like tiny black holes drawing your attention with their shimmering dance. Finally, the whole painting rises into its place on the screen with the swaying cypress and the dramatic journey of the clouds. It was truly spectacular.

The misses

A big miss at the exhibition was that some of the projections lacked saturation, which fails to do justice to the Van Gogh palette. The floor was also projected onto, but with merely an extended background of the showcased painting. This lit up the dark room enough to diminish the strength of the projections. Fortunately, paintings like The Starry Night and Starry Night Over The Rhône were dark enough to avoid this. However, the show is extremely Instagram-friendly, and the projections come out sharper in images. Also, it would have helped the viewer if the names of the paintings were projected or communicated to complete the visual and sensory experience for visitors.

Till March 3 
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Cost Rs 699 onwards

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