Way beyond the frame
A unique art exhibit at the Halifax Exhibition Centre isn't just showcasing the astonishing works of 19th century Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh - it's bringing it to life. Featuring 300 of the artist's works, Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience utilizes cutting-edge projection technology and music to allow guests to move around, and even within, some of the art world's most prized paintings. Having originally launched in Miami in April 2021, the all-digital, interactive art exhibit was not only an instant hit, it has been changing the way people view the world of high art. “I'll always enjoy the original paintings and if I get the chance to be in the presence of an original painting, of course it will always be great for me,” says art historian Fanny Curtat. “But there is something of a fantasy to go beyond the frame and inside the painting themselves.” Curtat is certainly wellacquainted with the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit. Created by Montreal's Mathieu StArnaud of Normal Studio, the young art historian was enlisted early in the project's development as an art consultant. “I know very little about the dark magic that makes everything work and happen in terms of projection,” admits Curtat about the more than 30,000 square foot exhibit. “But I came in with Vincent's work and his narrative and the elements of his work that could really be adapted to this sort of very contemporary language.” On display at the Prospect Road event centre until June 12, Beyond Van Gogh has been amazing crowds everywhere from Honolulu to Ottawa with its immersive digital projections. Now landing in Halifax, the exhibit is thrilling audiences while providing them with plenty of room to walk around and adhere to safe distancing during their visit. More importantly, Beyond Van Gogh is introducing Nova Scotians to much of the largely self-taught painter's work for the very first time in a fascinating new way. In fact, Curtat insists, for many people, the exhibit has been providing a different access point to the art world in general. “There's also something to be said about the power of Vincent's work and the appeal of his work,” says Curtat. “I think you could do these types of experiences with multiple artists (but) would they have the same success as with his work? I think there's something that speaks to a modern sensibility with him — in more ways than one, he's the artist we need right now.” Curtat adds part of the reason Van Gogh has been the ideal artist to launch such an immersive exhibit can be found in the artwork itself. A Post-Impressionist painter, Van Gogh's most famous works — such as Farmhouse in Provence (1888) or The Starry Night (1889) — provide a powerful antidote against the dark backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. “When you have somebody like Van Gogh, you already have this kind of sacredness upon his work (and) he has this vision of nature that's really imbued with spirituality,” notes Curtat. “(So) when you look at the work, (you see) only the light, only the joy, only the beauty — and that speaks to people.” For more information on Beyond Van Gogh, visit: www.vangoghhalifax.com.