Van Gogh Alive: a multi-sensory, Covid-safe exhibition

A scene from Van Gogh Alive. Photo: supplied.

This unique exhibition leaves a great post-impression, writes Rita Bratovich.

One day in an Italian art gallery, a young child told his dad he was bored with looking at paintings. That was when his art-loving dad – who just happened to be Bruce Peterson, owner of Grande Exhibitions – first got the idea of Van Gogh Alive.

This unique concept takes a selection of the Dutch master’s works and exhibits them in a sensory field of giant visuals, digital movement, music, and even scent.

Van Gogh Alive has enthralled art enthusiasts around the world and is set to do the same in Sydney. The display completely fills the cavernous space in the heritage listed Royal Hall of Industries (RHI) building at Moore Park.

It includes a series of screens: very large ones standing around the room at various angles, smaller ones suspended high, and projections on the floor – all creating a walk-through gallery.

The visuals change at an easy pace, with some paintings being digitally manipulated to have elements that move: boats rock gently upon the sea; a train chugs across a landscape; stars twinkle.

Van Gogh Alive is a multi-sensory, walk-through gallery. Photo: supplied.

The high resolution projections give a very faithful reproduction of the paintings, showcasing Van Gogh’s powerful brush work and bold, vibrant colours. He is the perfect artist for such a concept as his style and subjects are very accessible.

The transitions and the effects are done at a meditative pace and intensity, so that patrons are not overwhelmed but rather, transfixed.

Van Gogh’s paintings are projected onto these screens, several at a time. You can experience a painting up close, towering over above you, and then look at the painting on a panel further away to get a different perspective.

Underscoring the visual show is a musical soundtrack comprising fragments of classical works, some well-known, some more obscure. The pieces are very well chosen and perfectly suited to the visuals.

To add yet another sensory dimension, when images depicting flowers (one of Van Gogh’s great loves) are shown, a fragrance is emitted into the air.

It’s a wonderful, full-sensory immersion and a rare experience not to be missed.

There’s plenty of room for adequate distancing and everyone is required to wear a mask.

Van Gogh Alive is on now at the Royal Hall of Industries, Driver Avenue, Moore Park, for a strictly limited season. Tickets $27 – $59 + booking fee; timed bookings. Visit for bookings and info.

Van Gogh Alive. Photo: supplied.

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