Search icon

Reviews

16th May 2022

REVIEW: Van Gogh Immersive Exhibition at the RDS

Katy Thornton

van gogh immersive experience

Immerse yourself in the work of expressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh.

The moment I heard that the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibition was coming to Dublin, I was itching to go. Although my art knowledge is limited, Leaving Cert and college electives fostered my love of Van Gogh’s work, as well as several of his prints that hang in our family home (that I believed as a child were real) (yes even then I thought it was bonkers). I’m too proud to admit at what age I realised this was stupid but I will say I was a teenager, which is shameful enough.

With all this in mind, you can imagine how excited I was to get invited to an early showing of the exhibition. I had little to no prior expectations of the event, but as a Van Gogh enthusiast I was buzzing to attend.

van gogh immersive exhibition

Why you should go? 

Whether you’re a huge art fan, or not, it doesn’t matter. This exhibition brings you through Van Gogh’s work with no narrative on his life, or his style; it allows the art to speak for itself. And boy, does it speak. In this way, it’s simply a feast for the eyes, and the 360 degree event is visually magnificent, regardless of it being Van Gogh’s work.

I would recommend anyone looking to do something a bit different to attend. It’s perfect for a wide audience, from children to seniors, and if I was still in college and learning about Van Gogh, I think this is a great place for students to grasp the impact of his work.

Set the scene

I’m unsure what I expected, but upon entering the Hall, before the exhibition began, it was just an empty space. There were a few bean bag style cushions on the ground (which my plus one and I snapped up) if you wanted to sit back and relax, but there was also ample room to roam the hall if you wished either.

The walls and floor were initially blank, but we were soon plunged into darkness, and Van Gogh’s work began to appear before us. Each painting was projected onto each wall, often moving, and this worked perfectly to immerse the spectator in his work. That you could see the rough paint strokes that Van Gogh was so well known for was extraordinary in these blown up versions of his paintings.

The backstory

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch painter born in 1853 and over his lifetime he produced more than 2,000 pieces of artwork. He was painting in a Post Impressionist era; we were taught in school that he was an Expressionist but which art period he falls into can be debated. As with many artists, he became famous after his death in 1890.

This particular Van Gogh exhibition shows his work like no other. The movement Van Gogh hoped to create with brushstrokes and light comes to life in the 360 degree projections of his work. The RDS was one of the few spots in Dublin where this exhibition could be held due to its infrastructure.

The highlight

It’s hard to pinpoint a highlight honestly. The whole exhibition was beautiful and had me enthralled for the whole 20 minutes it was showing (there were two more short shows after this that weren’t Van Gogh related). It was an incredibly innovative way of viewing Van Gogh’s work; even as someone who loves art galleries and who has visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, I appreciated this new way of experiencing his paintings.

One highlight was the infinity room outside of the exhibition. Essentially it’s a room of mirrors and lights that projects tons of versions of yourself and seemingly goes on forever. You only spend a minute in there but I loved every second of it.

The last part of the Van Gogh journey is a huge Paint By Numbers picture that sits framed on the wall. There were markers for colouring in and it was nice to feel like a child again; no doubt by the end the visitors’ collective effort will make one masterpiece. The returning to childhood colouring, in hindsight, could well have been my highlight.

van gogh immersive exhibition

Accessibility

The event took place on ground level and there’s plenty of space in the hall for those with reduced mobility.

Anything else?

Due to the nature of the exhibition, the Van Gogh Experience uses flashing lights which may irritate or trigger those with epilepsy. The lights and music could also be uncomfortable for people with sensory processing needs. As such, attendee discretion is advised.

How long is it showing for?

This event runs from May 16th until August 4th, so you have all summer to buy tickets for it.

Where is it again?

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience is set up in Hall 2 at the RDS.

Prices from?

Adult tickets are €25, child tickets are €15 (excluding service charge). Under 5s get in for free. You can purchase your ticket through this link HERE.

Overall Thoughts

I genuinely loved this experience, it is a truly unique art exhibition. It may appeal to those who find traipsing through art galleries a little boring, for lack of a better term; the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibition is much more stimulating.

I would highly recommend the experience. As someone who has been moved by Van Gogh’s work for most of my life (especially when I learned we, in fact, didn’t have his original work in our home) I found myself almost emotional when one of his last paintings “Wheatfield With Crows” appeared, knowing the story behind it.

READ ON: Visiting Dublin? Try this new Walking Food Tour