#ArtIsEverywhere: Starry, Starry Eyed

By Dhiraj Singh

WHEN YOU SEE A 2 X 3 feet ‘Starry Night’ splashed across a room the size of an airplane hangar something changes in you. You become a participant in the reality of that work. No matter how far removed you are from it, you begin to extract from it much more than would have been otherwise possible. ‘Van Gogh 360’ is a show that brings you closer to Vincent Van Gogh’s world in a way that hadn’t been possible earlier.
‘The Starry Night’ in surround space

Across the length and breadth of the hangar space, video projectors beam images of paintings that you may have seen many times before but here their ginormous proportions make you feel their brilliance much more intensely. The images themselves aren’t static but they come together and come apart many times in a fluidly edited show of 40 minutes. You forget that you’re in Mumbai’s bustling World Trade Centre where the show is housed but have entered the magnified otherworldliness of ‘Van Gogh Space-Time’ where you’re moving between brushstrokes of colour that’s static and fluid at the same time. Much like the wave-particle paradox of Quantum Physics. Is everything as solid as we see it or is it all a flux of energy particles? Van Gogh was said to be possessed by this idea which is why he began to capture it in his paintings, as if everything was a mosaic of buzzing energy particles. At times when the projection falls on you, you also become part of the work as a purple-blue iris or a golden-yellow sunflower or a piece of furniture being lifted off a painted floor.
The author takes an immersive selfie
There are over 300 works that have been skillfully animated to create a surround effect. The corners are especially interesting as sometimes they make kaleidoscopes of Van Gogh paintings. 

Van Gogh 360 brings the artist closer to Gen Z kids who love it when art and tech collide. Everyone is awestruck at the show, busy taking selfies or making reels. In the foyer before you enter the main hall of projections are back-lit flex sheets of the artist’s works, with notes about his state of mind when he painted them. It is an apt preamble to the drama inside the main hall. Vincent’s late nineteenth century was perhaps the beginning of a process of medicalizing everything. It’s a process that is in its apogee now. So it’s no surprise that till this day Van Gogh remains a poster-boy for mental illness. There is a whole Wikipedia page devoted to the ‘Health of Vincent van Gogh’ and it lists a spectrum of possible causes behind his suffering: from epilepsy, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia to sunstroke, lead poisoning, digitalis overdose and absinthe intoxication. Van Gogh continues to fox and fascinate us. This unique show is yet another evidence of that!
Weekend rush at Van Gogh 360 in Mumbai

 Catch it in New Delhi in April!

Dhiraj Singh is a well-known journalist, author, artist and TV personality whose latest novel ‘MASTER O’ is a sci-fi political thriller. He is currently Director, School of Media & Communication & The Idea Lab, MIT-World Peace University



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