A treat for art lovers will soon arrive in Dublin as an immersive Vincent van Gogh exhibition promises to let visitors walk inside the paintings of the famed post-impressionist painter.
No ordinary art exhibition, it will use projections and artificial intelligence to immerse visitors inside works such as ‘Starry Night’ – making the artwork “a living, breathing thing” and allowing visitors to experience the painted night sky as if it were truly around them.
The 20,000-square-foot experience is set to take over the Shelbourne Hall at the RDS from May 16th until August 4th, with organisers saying the venue is one of the few in Dublin with sufficient infrastructure to build an immersive exhibit of this scale.
Project director Jillian Wilson says visitors will “get to walk through the fascinating and tragic life of Van Gogh, through his carefully curated artworks, chosen to fully absorb you in a multisensory experience, with mind-blowing audiovisual effects.”
The experience is in four parts, beginning with a deep-dive into the artist’s subconscious as digital projections of his psyche – including personal letters and drawings from various eras of his life – surround visitors in 360 degrees.
Ms Wilson says that throughout this section “we discover the portraits of people that touched his life. The immersive experience brings us into the scenes of ‘The Potato Eaters' or ‘Almond Blossoms’ as if we were in them and they were alive around us”.
Part two of the exhibition captures the artists as he moves to the south of France, allowing visitors to “stroll around fields in Arles with him, seeing Van Gogh's visionary take on perspective and horizon,” and spend time inside his renowned ‘Sunflowers’ scenery.
“Many scenes innovatively interpret the signature elements of his life or style. We occupy his subconsciousness here, particularly composed of what he painted while in his room at the asylum. And you feel like you are in his mind and thoughts at this time,” Ms Wilson says.
Part three then launches visitors into Van Gogh's hallmark scenes and paintings – allowing them to experience being under the signature sky of ‘Starry Night’ or laying in ‘Wheatfields with Crows’.
The journey next continues into the more abstract scenes of Van Gogh’s style, where visitors experience a scene inspired by his famous painting techniques in a “futuristic” environment.
“The AI [artificial intelligence] part of this show is the most spectacular, as it makes use of an entire catalogue of over 2,000 artworks: paintings, drawings and letters,” Ms Wilson says.
“By categorising and analysing them, they learn Van Gogh’s style, his colour palette, they also generate paintings in his style. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience.”
Van Gogh art experiences have been seen in recent years in cities across the world from Tokyo to Paris.
However, the Dublin show – the work of Irish company Theatre of Light and creative studio Nohlab – promises to interpret his paintings “through new technologies, combined in a way that will have never been seen before this world premiere.”
Theatre of Light co-founder Dan Gleeson said experiencing similar shows across Europe, the United States and Asia inspired him to bring something “even better” to Dublin.
“When you first arrive you don’t know what to expect. Immediately you’re completely taken aback by how beautiful everything is and how impressive the digital artwork is, brought to life all around you. You then become completely absorbed by the journey, Van Gogh’s incredible talent and his fascinating life,” he says.
“And it’s really not just for art lovers, people of any age and any interests will enjoy this spectacle. It really is an incredible new experience we can all now enjoy in Dublin across the summer months.”
Tickets are available at vangoghdublin.com, priced at €28.14 for adults, €25.94 concession and €17.19 for children aged 12 and under