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Van Gogh Alive - review

With his work internationally adored, yet never to his knowledge, Vincent Van Gogh's lifetime was one of fascination. Spanning years of inner torment but productivity and a way of artistry that has left a legacy that will be forever admired, it is no surprise that the immersive experience, Van Gogh Alive, has had subsequent success upon touring various countries around the globe. Now at the Brighton Dome, you have the opportunity to play a part in preserving the love for the historical great, by enjoying his art though methods beyond the canvas.

Beginning by sharing more about the life of Van Gogh, a selection of information ranging from birth to death details the events in his life, while making significant links to some of his most popular pieces over the years; the impact that his personal and emotional connections that run through these. There isn't a huge amount to take in, but a perfect introduction of knowledge that gives a good overview of each stage of his journey and the stories intertwining his art into these. Discussing Van Gogh's erratic mental health - including strained friend and family relationships, time in institution, and infamous removal of an ear - it is captivating to link his subject and methods of painting, alongside his ever-changing unique style to this reflection of often sad and moving narrative behind the painter.

Wandering on, there is a small tunnel of lights and mirrors, creating one of several stunning photo opportunities throughout the experience. This leads towards the biggest room of the exhibition, filled with projections of countless masterpieces, creating a 45 minute cycle that displays these over the times they originate from, occasionally with additional animated features too. Allowing you to sit anywhere in the room, it is beautiful to watch and soak in the craft, gaining a richer appreciation for the meaning behind each work. Accompanied by some profoundly sentimental quotes to demonstrate Van Gogh's lesser known flair for writing, with many of his words able to resonate: hardships, love and passion. While it doesn't detract from the grandeur of the exhibit, and it is nice to enter and exit whenever ready at different times from others, in order to have the choice to watch the entire thing chronologically, it could be beneficial to be given a start time in correlation to the booked entry slot, rather than joining the loop midway through.

After this, make your way upstairs to a life-sized reconstruction of 'Bedroom in Arles' which is brilliantly done to look exactly as if the props are painted. Then the most iconic area awaits, as the sunflower room provides the chance for some more great snaps - a set up that is so addictively pretty, you won't want to leave! This space is smaller than expected, and the mirrors (much like the twinkly tunnel mentioned earlier) help ease this illusion, but it is virtually impossible to get individual photos if other attendees are around. Nevertheless, given the nature of the building, it is understandable as to why this is, and imagine that different venues would be able to dedicate more to these. While dubbed as a 'multi-sensory experience' though, there are lots of visual aspects which work excellently; otherwise it perhaps doesn't fit this label as much.

For a cost of £8 (or £10 on the door) you can purchase a fantastic brochure, packed with lovely images and words from the experience to take away with you - an ideal souvenir for the trip. Alternatively, there are a few items available in the gift shop, though this is limited, but you could get an artificial sunflower like those in the exhibition, or even bag yourself Vincent Van Duck...! It is expected to take about 90 minutes to revel in everything on offer here.

Overall, Van Gogh Alive has proven to be a hit for so many. The knowledge about one of the most incredibly famous artists and visionary of hope, despite the shrouded darkness that encased his personal life, draws you in to each element to value Vincent Van Gogh as both himself and the creative pioneer he always will be. No doubt this will continue for many years to come: it would be wonderful to see bigger versions of this, as well as similar for other artists, if able to gain enough traction too.


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