Highly anticipated Beyond Van Gogh arrives in Liverpool

Posted on 28 June 2024
By Kate Farley
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Beyond Van Gogh has hit Liverpool for a limited-time run at the Exhibition Centre.  It promises to go beyond the frame of the Dutch painter’s art and send visitors into the paintings, a promise it most definitely delivered. 

The exhibit starts with Vincent’s life describing the formative years of the artist displayed on light boxes backgrounded by close-ups of some of his paintings. As I walked between the loose hanging frames it truly felt like I had entered the world of Van Gogh. I was astonished by the quality of the images as you could clearly see each brushstroke.

While walking through the informative section I could hear music from the next room, which created anticipation for what was to come. But I do wish that the separate sections had their own soundtracks, the other room contained voices which were quite distracting when reading and also quite eerie. 

Once I had read about the painter’s life I headed into the main event, the 360 degree immersive experience projected around the room. As I entered I was surrounded by Van Gogh’s famous portraits, displayed as stacks of canvases on the floor leaning against the wall. The projections flowed through the different paintings seamlessly which meant that there was no bad time to enter. The different eras of Vincent’s artwork flowed through the room, one moment you were in the middle of the iconic swirls in ‘The Starry Night’ and the next in one of the many bedrooms he painted.

Van Gogh has been praised for his ability to create movement in his paintings through the loose small brushstrokes. Seeing the paintings enlarged allows you to admire this detail as well as the time and effort that was put in by the painter.

Some paintings even featured animations, portraits blinked, birds flew and flowers bloomed. These movements made the paintings come to life. When the walls were covered by ‘Starry Night on the Rhone River’ the painting came alive thanks to small animations such as twinkling stars and the rolling river. The accompanying jazz music transported me into the scene, I felt as though I was walking along the river taking in the serene moment. 

The show also featured quotes which gave context and a deeper understanding of the art which followed. Just before we were surrounded by Van Gogh’s remarkable self-portraits, the viewers found out how difficult he found painting himself.

Sadly, I felt as though the pacing was slightly off during some parts of the show, some moments dragged slightly and lasted too long which ruined the immersiveness of the experience. Also, the show described it would showcase 300 artworks. It didn’t feel like I had even seen 100, this might be due to the constant looking around and head swivelling that took place trying to take everything in. 

Overall, I would recommend this exhibit to any major art lover, although a tad on the pricey side at almost £30 for an adult ticket the experience sends you into the colourful world of Van Gogh. It allows you to get up close and personal with the artist’s masterpieces.