By Alex Gallagher | August 27, 2021
Vincent Van Gogh’s art has been sweeping the nation with its revival in the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit and now fans of his work will be flocking to Scottsdale to see it.
The digitally interactive exhibits — which span 500,000 cubic feet of projector screens — at Lighthouse Artspace in Old Town will run through Nov. 28.
“This show is a new way of looking at art,” says Rowan Doyle, “Immersive Van Gogh” creative director.
“On one hand it is an art exhibit, but that’s only the beginning,” says, Corey Ross, president of Lighthouse Productions. “Technically it’s a short animated film.”
The exhibit offers several ways for guests to explore the many works of Van Gogh, the Dutch painter who is best known for paintings like “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers” and several self-portraits.
“Van Gogh was the hi-tech artist of his day,” Ross says. “His inspiration and his ability to capture ‘The Starry Night’ was a technological innovation.”
Beyond his postmortem fame for innovation and creativity as an artist, Van Gogh also has gained notoriety for his battle with mental health — which culminated in suicide.
“I think Van Gogh as a subject matter works well because difficulties he had with depression and isolation have become more relatable,” Ross says. “When you come out into these galleries and realize that he struggled with the same things that many of us have had to in the last year and that the art has transcended the troubles that he had, people were finding that cathartic and inspirational, so I think that’s part of why the show has become part of the zeitgeist.”
The last years of Van Gogh’s life has become the most studied time of his life, and the exhibit reflects on that through the work of videographer Massimiliano Siccardi.
“This is really a film that Massimiliano Siccardi has created and the way he explains it, he’s trying to capture what might have flashed before Van Gogh’s eyes the moments before he passed away,” Ross says.
The 40-minute film, played on a continuous loop, features visual representations of some of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works — synchronized with music created by composer Luca Longobardi — across walls covered by projection screens that reflect onto the floor of the exhibit, giving viewers an immersive experience.
Beyond the main exhibit, “Immersive Van Gogh” offers several other attractions that help understand the mysterious life of the famed artist.
The exhibit has a timeline of the artist’s life and quotes from some of the 800 letters he penned, mostly to his brother Theo.
In total, there are over 40 paintings featured and over 400 images have been licensed as part of the exhibit.
“To have a show like this, which is the first thing that many people have experienced coming out of their homes and coming in to see any type of entertainment or exhibit has been very rewarding for our audiences,” Ross says.
There are several measures in place to encourage social distancing within the exhibit like circles for people to stand in the main exhibit and tickets that can be purchased to attend at a certain time of the day.
“We give people a time to arrive so we can control the volume of people in the gallery, but we don’t give people a time to leave, so people will often come in and stay for a couple iterations of it,” Ross says.
“Immersive Van Gogh” is the first exhibit to inhabit Lighthouse Productions, which used to be the office space for corporate tenants like Carvana.
“Lighthouse Artspace Scottsdale is really a new cultural art space that merges art, technology and immersive world building in a unique entertainment experience,” says Diana Rayzman, “Immersive Van Gogh” co-producer and co-founder of Impact Museums.
Rayzman also feels that the exhibit will be right at home in Old Town.
“This venue, which sits at the intersection of entertainment and arts in Scottsdale, is truly the perfect home for Lighthouse Artspace and ‘Immersive Van Gogh,’” she says. “When we started looking for a home in the greater Phoenix area, we really wanted to find a space that embodied both creativity and love of nature.”
Scottsdale is the ninth city to host “Immersive Van Gogh,” and there are plans for the exhibit to run in 20 cities by the end of the year.
Lighthouse Productions is also committed to bringing more shows to Scottsdale after “Immersive Van Gogh” closes.
“This is not a touring show, this is a permanent installation here,” Ross says. “Our hope is that Massimiliano (Siccardi) and other artists will bring us fabulous creations that we can exhibit in the years to come.”
Rayzman hopes that the exhibit will be beneficial to the many other artistic sites in Scottsdale.
“After a really difficult year and a half, we are so thrilled to bring thousands of visitors every day to this community and hope that our guests will stay to experience the many things this town has to offer,” she says.
Ross is also excited to see how the exhibit works in Scottsdale and believes it will change the way people view art.
“I really think this is the beginning of a whole movement and will be really exciting to see where this goes,” he says.