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Grande Exhibitions’ Van Gogh Alive is a truly unique encounter with art, where ‘you don’t just look at his paintings, you step inside them and feel their power’.
This month sees the groundbreaking interactive exhibition reopening Birmingham Hippodrome for the second time in a year. After the show’s UK premiere at the venue last autumn, the theatre then had to close in November when the country went into a second lockdown.
Visitors to Van Gogh Alive can find out all about the Dutch artist’s evolution - from under-appreciated painter into celebrated genius - via the projections at their fingertips, above their heads and beneath their feet.
Families and art lovers alike get to wander through an immersive gallery of over 3,000 images of Van Gogh’s legendary works, including The Starry Night, Sunflowers and Wheatfield With Crows. In the process, they come face-to-face with the vibrant colours and vivid detail that encapsulates his unique Post-Impressionist style.
Presented across the globe to great critical acclaim, Van Gogh Alive has been exhibited in a wide variety of locations - from a deconsecrated church in Florence, to the lake parks of Shanghai and the spectacular Louvre Abu Dhabi. The show is both a biography and an expansive anthology of masterpieces, specially tailored for each space it visits. Artworks are displayed in all their glory, broken down to showcase certain sections, or even magnified on a breathtaking scale. Photographs, videos and deeply philosophical quotes from Van Gogh himself have been entwined with images of his works to call attention to snippets of his real-life inspiration.
Paintings are shown in such detail (thanks to state-of-the-art technology) that observers will be given fresh insight into the carnival of colours and precise techniques used by the artist. This ethereal experience of feeling fully submerged in Van Gogh’s canvas is interwoven with waves of carefully chosen classical symphonies and bursts of fragrance to pique all the senses.
In addition to the main exhibition, Van Gogh Alive also features hands-on art stations, interpretative areas, a life-sized recreation of Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, and a captivating mirrored room adorned with hundreds of sunflowers - perhaps Van Gogh’s greatest muse.
Van Gogh Alive was a big hit in the city last year, welcoming 28,000 socially distanced visitors in only one month.
Commenting on the show, Bruce Peterson, founder of Grande Exhibitions, said: “We visited a number of venues in the UK, but as soon as we entered the Hippodrome, we knew we had to bring our Van Gogh Alive here. It’s a unique, iconic venue. Van Gogh Alive was met with such a heartwarmingly positive response by audiences at Birmingham Hippodrome. It’s just brilliant that the doors can reopen once again.
The global exhibition is a perfect Covid-aware experience for the whole family that will provide some escapism and education. Adults and children seem to enjoy the experience in different ways, finding their own meaning in Van Gogh’s work as they explore the galleries.”
The venue and its patrons are just as thrilled by the return of the exhibition…
“Van Gogh Alive is incredibly important to us all at the Hippodrome,” shares Fiona Allen, artistic director & chief executive at the theatre. “It was the only way we found to reopen the building during a year without any live performance. We were taken aback by the public response we had, both to the beauty and joy of this enriching cultural experience, and how safe our visitors felt with the timed entry and social-distancing measures in place. It’s brilliant that we’ve found a way to reopen Van Gogh Alive for a limited run, as we know so many people were disappointed to miss out when we went back into lockdown last November.”
Birmingham has a long history of championing arts & culture, and Van Gogh Alive is once again presenting an opportunity to support this important UK industry - as West Midlands Mayor Andy Street pointed out prior to the exhibition’s premiere last autumn: “Many sectors are going through an incredibly difficult period due to the pandemic, and the arts is no exception. Birmingham Hippodrome has had its challenges, but it’s a critical venue for the West Midlands, and it’s great to see how it’s adapting and thinking outside the box to overcome these challenges. Grande Exhibitions and Van Gogh Alive is not only a boost for the Hippodrome, but it will also be great for the wider West Midlands economy, helping to draw visitors back to our region.”
Van Gogh Alive shows at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday 11 July.
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