Immerse yourself in 500,000 cubic feet of Van Gogh’s colorful brushstrokes


Courtesy of the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

The Starry Night by Van Gogh at the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition in Chicago. The exhibition provides a deep dive into a sea of colors and lights, featuring 60 of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Melina Chalkia, Reporter

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Chicago allows visitors to delve into the world of Vincent Van Gogh in a multi-sensory experience of color, light and music.

The exhibit involves more than 74 projectors and showcases animations of 400 images from 60 different Van Gogh works, according to Co-Producer and Co-Founder of the Lighthouse Art Space Irina Shabshis. The images interweave with each other, spanning the space’s large mirrors and high ceilings.

Located at the Germania Club Building, the exhibition is part of the Lighthouse Art Space, which is projected to continue operating until September. The project follows COVID-19 safety protocols, with temperature checks, six feet distanced digital circles, regular disinfection and multiple hand sanitizers in all rooms.

The inspiration for the event was born from two Italian artists: designer Massimiliano Siccardi and composer Luca Longobardi, who according to Shabshis, pioneered immersive art experiences in France.

“After seeing this magical, absolute force of light and sound and color in Paris, we wanted to bring it here too,” Shabshis said.

The first exhibition launched July 2020 in Toronto, and is projected to expand to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, according to Shabshis. The producers aim to transform it into an immersive art museum with exhibitions inspired by different artists.

Shabshis said visitors can walk through four different rooms, completely covered in mirrors, where they experience the flow of images from one room to the next.

“Because you are not seeing the same thing each time, you experience different emotions because the images are not static, but animated,” Shabshis said. “It’s a three-dimensional experience because it reflects the images on the walls to the floor and to the ceiling.”

According to Shabshis, the exhibit is a “full-package,” 38-minute experience, and visitors can lay down in socially-distanced circles projected digitally on the floor, spending however long they want in each room.

What makes this experience unique, Shabshis said, is the combination and reconfiguration of different artworks by Van Gogh, with added musical components.

“It’s very innovative, as the paintings mix and interact with each other, and it’s the music, beautiful music from different composers combined into one palette of colors and sounds,” she said.

Angela Kay, who visited the exhibit in Toronto, found it a moving experience for her two daughters.
Kay said her daughter, who has vision impairment, was given a “wonderful way” to experience the dynamic displays in ways she wouldn’t be able to with conventional art. Her other daughter, who she said has ADHD, was equally awestruck and enraptured by the exhibition.

Jamie Odierno, who recently visited the Chicago exhibit, spoke to her multi-sensory, “awe-inspiring” experience.

Odierno said no matter where she stood in the room, she gained a completely different perspective from where she found herself five minutes before.

“You could lay down and look up, and the way the colors would kick off the mirrors and ricochet with the music — it made it unbelievable,” Odierno said.

Odierno said the first visit did not give her enough time to truly grasp the exhibit’s essence. She plans to visit again.

“I just felt like every time I looked away or looked at one specific thing I was missing something else over here, so even if you sit through it multiple times, it is not the same,” she said.

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Twitter: @ChalkiaMelina

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