Last weekend we spent in Warsaw, Poland, where we went to visit the multimedia exhibition on Van Gogh. The show is touring cities of the world for some time now. Of course, we took the chance to see it.
The show was a story of Van Gogh’s life and art, how entwined and inseparable they were. The story was told through his personal letters and paintings, starting with his Dutch childhood, how he decided to pursue painting, artistic choices, personal tragedies and struggles leading up to his suicidal death. It was amazing to read his own words explaining what it meant for him to be a painter, his own outlook on life, learn how important it was that he was self taught artist, his ethos.
Multimedia display walks a visitor through Van Gogh’s early paintings, showcasing changes, giving a background of what was going on in his personal life. Then it moves onto a period in Paris where he joined the Impressionists.
Exhibition creators refer through his letters to his mental troubles leading to self imposed Van Gogh’s stay in asylum and showcasing the south France period paintings, fascination with stars and landscape. The display ends by bringing in events leading to his suicide. The show is accompanied by Van Gogh’s contemporary music (especially Erik Satie).
I found the exhibition was a good way to talk about Van Gogh, the artist and man as it could easily bring together a set of paintings and shoot at you with multiple screens and close ups entwined with his letters and sketches.
The most striking for me was the assembly of his auto-portraits, close ups when you cannot stop being pulled to Van Gogh’s eyes and noticing changes in his mental state in those wild, very evocative looks he gives. That was the best of the exhibition, the modern technology allowing such a connection.
Here’s a link for you to have a glimpse of the experience.
And here are my two favourite quotes by Van Gogh himself:
“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”
― Vincent van Gogh
“To do good work one must eat well, be well housed, have one’s fling from time to time, smoke one’s pipe, and drink one’s coffee in peace”
― Vincent van Gogh
Funnily, in Polish translation the fling notion was completely omitted!