Vincent Van Gogh, that is. Not really alive per se, more like re-envisioned. More like dynamized, energized, galvanized, and supersized. For the modern age. By Cadillac!
"Van Gogh Alive" is a "multisensory art exhibition" that explores the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh in an "incredible, stimulating multimedia format". Said stimulating format? The "SENSORY4TM" -- "a unique system that combines multichannel motion graphics, cinema-quality surround sound and up to forty high-definition projectors to provide one of the most spectacular multiscreen environments in the world."
Yes, it's the "SENSORY4TM" -- I'm not making that up.
It's basically a giant warehouse space outfitted with a maze of massive 30-foot screens and a booming soundsystem, cranking out floor to ceiling images set to a truly ripping classical music soundtrack. "Vincent Van Gogh Alive" is for people who really want to go BALLS DEEP on their love for the post impressionist master. After a showing in Shanghai, the exhibition opened yesterday in Beijing, and is now running at Chaoyang's Joy City Mall until December 6.
Have you ever seen a Vincent Van Gogh exhibition before? Yeah, but this one goes to 11. Take my hand, my friend, let's do the tour!
The entrance. As soon as I whipped out my camera the guard straitened up. I wonder if they're told to do that in case people start taking pictures. It's part of the training, maybe? Gotta present a professional face, maybe.
Security is tight. This exhibition was originally supposed to open a few weeks ago but something happened. We know not what and we shall never speak of it again.
So yeah, it's sponsored by Cadillac (Van Gogh's fav luxury automobile) and they've actually got a full-on Caddy dealership in the entrance. Makes sense. I don't know how many times I've gone to a SENSORY4TM multisensory art exhibition and ended up coming away with a brand new 60,000USD Cadillac sedan. Story of my life.
They've also got a pop-up Häagen-Dazs restaurant.
And a giant TV of American actor Bradley Cooper really enjoying said Häagen-Dazs. Save some for the rest of us, Bradley, you greedy bitch!
Right about here is when you realize they've got Don McLean's "Vincent (Starry Starry Night)" on loop playing in the lobby. Serious, they just looped that song right up and it's never ever coming off. Wow. Anyways, you get your ticket at the desk next to the Hagen Daaz. 120rmb -- ehhhh, that's not cheap.
And it's through the door to the exhibition.
They start you off in this room to introduce all this state-of-the-art technology and the Dutch master himself.
The main works. These are forming the basis for what's on the screens to come.
"Sunflowers? The fuck out here. I basically OWN that shit, yo, don't even mess."
And then you go down a dark hallway and some guy with a flashlight points you to the big room. And here it is.
Is it neat?
Yeah... yeah, I'd say it's pretty neat.
The whole idea sounds like it would be real cheesy, but once you get in there it's actually pretty impressive. It's basically like being washed over in color and banging-ass classical music for as long as you want, while these gigantic screens blast through the massive collection of images attributed to Vincent Van Gogh. It's broken down into his various periods and there's a bit of supporting material as well, which flashes on the screens intermittently to explain the defining aesthetic characteristics of a given phase. It's pretty basic stuff with lots of deference to the man's Greatest Hits -- the sunflowers, Starry Night, the self-portraits -- but it also does a pretty fair job in putting a bit of aesthetic context to these iconic images as well. It's pretty mesmerizing. There's also a nice communal feel as well to the way the audience responded to it. Lots of people were just sitting around on the floors gazing at these screens or wandering around in a daze. There was a real 'do whatcha like' vibe.
My expert recommendation: schmoke some doobage and go see it.
(JUST KIDDING, OMG, JUST KIDDING.)
The end. If you scroll back up to the top there, we've put together a nice-ish picture gallery if you'd like to see more photos.
Good times! ART! KA-POW!
"Van Gogh Alive" runs until December 6 at Chaoyang's Joy City Mall