Van Gogh 360: Expectations vs Reality

Van Gogh 360: Expectations vs Reality
Van Gogh 360 Delhi

The moment I came to know about Van Gogh 360 coming to Delhi, almost two months ago, I immediately opted for its advance booking. Who would not want to sit peacefully in a massive room while stunning artworks by Van Gogh unfold all around you. Who would not want to feel as if they are drowning in colors and beauty? At that time, Van Gogh 360 was going to be an experience of a lifetime for me.

I am not an art enthusiast, and my appreciation of paintings are that of an absolute amateur and a layman. However, I had first learnt about Van Gogh through his 'Letters of Vincent Van Gogh'. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential figures in the history of Western art, Van Gogh's life was far from easy. Despite all the pain and illness that afflicted him, Van Gogh never failed to notice and celebrate the beauty around him. Thus, I saw Van Gogh 360 as a perfect opportunity to know and learn more about his celebrated works and get to understand the seminal artist a little better. I was extremely excited.

As most of us might know by now, Van Gogh 360 is an immersive experience where you're led into a large hall and over 300 stunning artworks by Vincent Van Gogh are displayed all over – on all four massive walls and even on the floor. You are completely 'immersed' in Van Gogh's world. The event was created to help us see and appreciate Van Gogh's art like never before.

So what went wrong?

On the day I visited Van Gogh 360 Delhi, a part of me was mentally prepared for some technical glitches and hiccups. To my extremely unpleasant surprise, the moment I entered the exhibition, it was not the technical or managerial aspect that shocked me, it was the general behavior of the crowd that did. Despite being a decently spacious venue, I could not see a single painting without the rude interruption by people posing for pictures, creating reels, and videos. As I stood in the middle of the exhibition and looked around, all I could see were groups of people clicking pictures and the paintings getting reduced to nothing but a mere beautiful background in their photographs. Sadly, even after desperately searching, I could not find a single person, who was looking at the paintings without her/his phone in their hands. At that moment, I could not help but feel overwhelmingly sad.

Van Gogh 360 Delhi: neither space, nor peace

Unfortunately, I was not 'immersed' into Van Gogh's breathtaking paintings. Nor could could I see, learn, or appreciate a genius artist's works as I had hoped to. Instead of being among a crowd that is curious and excited about Van Gogh's work being exhibited at such a large and innovative scale, I felt like I was stuck in a giant photo booth. Van Gogh 360 Delhi was more like a distasteful photo session party.

I do not, under any circumstance, imply that we should stop taking pictures as and when we want. However, no matter how much we defend it or justify it, we are increasingly perceiving and experiencing life and all that it offers, through our cameras and mobile phones. On my way back from Van Gogh 360 Delhi, I wondered how many of us had actually visited the exhibition to truly learn about the genius but troubled artist, and enjoy his stunning masterpieces. From Van Gogh 360 Delhi, all that I took with me was the uncomfortable realization that we no longer have the attention span or patience to take time and experience things for what they are. Most of us can no longer understand the privilege of a quiet, collective, yet private experience.

Should you visit?

If you are an art enthusiast who has a passionate admiration for Vincent Van Gogh and his art, I am afraid that Van Gogh 360 Delhi might be distressingly underwhelming for you. Unless you are lucky and visit the exhibition without any crowd, all you would get to see is indifferent and desperate people with their strange props, fancy cameras, tripods, and phones, announcing their visit on various social media platforms. Additionally if you are a social media influencer or enthusiast, it would be equally difficult to click an acceptable picture.

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