When the art world is at odds, it might be time to refresh our perspective.
I remember loving Van Gogh ever since I was 10. I had his posters and paintings all over my walls and journals. All my friends knew that one thing about me for sure. I was so passionate about his art. In the summer of 2021, my flatmate told me there was an immersive Van Gogh experience going on in Edinburgh. I felt so many emotions.
I wanted to just scream and shout, because I couldn’t ever imagine the commercialisation of my sentiments through an immersive experience. I was adamant and very principled about preventing myself from giving in to this “instagrammable” facade. Until last July.
I had just started working, and I needed to give myself an enormous amount of encouragement to try new things, so I decided to go to the Vincent Van Gogh immersive experience. It wasn’t too expensive and I thought if I tried this, I would genuinely feel good.
I had so many questions as to why the immersive experience was a real thing. I wondered where all the money went. Did they have a school of art? Did they spend it on new up and coming artists? Did they have a charity for struggling artists to come and shelter in? Or were they just preying on emotions of art lovers all over the world that wanted to feel closer to their favourite artists?
This man, whose immersive experience I was going to witness, died a pauper, with practically no one understanding his art. Perhaps, if Vincent knew that everyone paid so much just to feel closer to him, he could’ve lived a few more years. It didn’t seem moral.
I will tell you one thing for sure, I walked out of the experience in tears. I saw and touched and heard Vincent’s voice, albeit through a virtual reality set. I felt like I was sitting next to him, and he was explaining all these paintings I saw as a kid. I felt like I was 10 again. We could sit and colour and paint our favourite paintings of him, and paste them on the wall where thousands of other art lovers had hung their paintings.
I was once told that no experience is a bad experience, and you can only have a measure if you try it. I was so glad I had decided to go in and witness this experience. I sat for three hours at a stretch in the immersive room where Van Gogh’s paintings floated and his life’s sayings were imprinted. In my head, I was so morally caught up that I had forgotten the one thing that bound me to art, my love for Vincent Van Gogh, and that is what these immersive experiences try to bring to you.
Imagine being able to sit with your loved ones, friends, family, partners or even alone in silence, look at the life of an artist that has inspired you, and get to share it. I was happy to see that people who had no idea who this person was could feel more aligned with the impressionistic art, and appreciate it.
As for me, I could’ve spent a lifetime in that room. It was like meditation to me; my soul and my memories felt alive. It is truly worth it for someone that wants to witness and experience being closer to their favourite artist. For people that have no idea what art is, and want to experience it, this is a good starting point. It makes the gap between learning and witnessing art closer. Sure, it comes at a price, which might not be the case for museums, but it is surely more enjoyable than just a museum experience. It’s the fact that these immersive experiences make art accessible for all. It makes it easier to get to know and understand an artist and their interpretations deeply, and also to have your own perception of their art through knowledge of their life.