Art critics turn up their noses at this travelling immersive experience, but as someone who knew little more about Van Gogh than the bits we learned in school, I found it compelling …
Yes, there are naff bits. The fake cafe in which you’re encouraged to touch stuff that is all nailed down. The fake straw. The inevitable gift shop on the way out, mostly filled with tat.
But I felt it offered a good balance between the man and his work. The audio tour has bite-sized chunks of biography, brought to life with projected paintings and animations. Excerpts from letters to his brother tell the story particularly well.
There’s a huge video wall of an incredible number of paintings; the photo above shows just part of it. I found that quite overwhelming. All the different styles and subjects crammed together. You could in theory spend hours looking at it, but I found I could manage only a few minutes. There are just too many competing calls for your attention. It does, though, do a great job at conveying the breadth of his work.
The two stars of the show for me are the wall-sized projected paintings and the 3D prints. The huge projections really let you see the brushwork, and the 3D prints – which you are encouraged to touch – let you feel it too. It feels like quite a special experience: you wouldn’t dare do that even if you owned the real thing.
It’s on until 21st May, tickets cost £18.