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Where the heart of Beyond Van Gogh is situated

Showing inside of a 30,000 square foot space in the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

Van Gogh, selfie pioneer.
Van Gogh, selfie pioneer.

Immersive art exhibits have grown in popularity recently, with installments like the recently closed Sistine Chapel Exhibition in Mission Valley now featured all over the world. Here in town, we still have Beyond Van Gogh, which is showing inside of a 30,000 square foot space in the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and is presented by Keurig. I bought a ticket for last Tuesday night and joined a wide variety of fellow guests — young and old, dates and families — to see what it was all about.

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Sponsored

The show begins with an educational stroll through some biographical and background information about the artist: his era, his internal torment, and the travails of his creative life. His earnest epistolary relationship with his brother Theo provides some of the content for the displays here. Here in the first section, there is also a thought-provoking row of suspended frames that invite the visitor to take a look at pieces of the world through them, to see things in a more painterly way.

The dark, blue night paintings work best.

After the introduction, guests walk past a display showing two Keurig K Supreme Plus SMART machines and a reminder that a “rich, full-flavored coffee masterpiece” is within reach. Scan the QR code for a coupon if you like, and, as the sign bids you, “Gogh this way” into the main room where the heart of Beyond Van Gogh is situated.

This room makes a striking first impression. Within the cavernous space, a classical soundtrack, which movingly evokes the melancholic feeling of Van Gogh’s life and work, plays, while a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings are projected on the walls and the floor. Some other sounds are here, too; for instance, a pencil scratching during a sketch. There is some understated animation— a blinking eye, a twinkling star, the re-creation of some brush strokes. Occasionally, there are words from the artist about his work or his process. Some episodes, especially when a single painting is featured rather than panels of multiple pieces, feel more immersive than others. The dark, blue night paintings work best, providing a dreamlike ambience that is not present during, say, the sequences of personal portraits, or the boat scenes.

You can sit or walk around slowly and observe different sections of the room. Of course, this being 2022, this whole show is also an opportunity to just take copious pictures of yourself and your companions against awesome backgrounds. The show welcomes this (and welcomes “Influencers” in particular on its website). I am struck, during one section of the show that fills the room with Van Gogh’s own oil paint selfies, by the intriguing double layer of self-regarding moments taking place here. Van Gogh: here I am in this big furry hat, now a straw one, smoking a pipe, with a shaved head, with my bandaged ear. San Diegans: here I am making my peace sign, embracing my date, pulling down my mask so I can smile for the camera.

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Van Gogh, selfie pioneer.
Van Gogh, selfie pioneer.

Immersive art exhibits have grown in popularity recently, with installments like the recently closed Sistine Chapel Exhibition in Mission Valley now featured all over the world. Here in town, we still have Beyond Van Gogh, which is showing inside of a 30,000 square foot space in the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and is presented by Keurig. I bought a ticket for last Tuesday night and joined a wide variety of fellow guests — young and old, dates and families — to see what it was all about.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The show begins with an educational stroll through some biographical and background information about the artist: his era, his internal torment, and the travails of his creative life. His earnest epistolary relationship with his brother Theo provides some of the content for the displays here. Here in the first section, there is also a thought-provoking row of suspended frames that invite the visitor to take a look at pieces of the world through them, to see things in a more painterly way.

The dark, blue night paintings work best.

After the introduction, guests walk past a display showing two Keurig K Supreme Plus SMART machines and a reminder that a “rich, full-flavored coffee masterpiece” is within reach. Scan the QR code for a coupon if you like, and, as the sign bids you, “Gogh this way” into the main room where the heart of Beyond Van Gogh is situated.

This room makes a striking first impression. Within the cavernous space, a classical soundtrack, which movingly evokes the melancholic feeling of Van Gogh’s life and work, plays, while a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings are projected on the walls and the floor. Some other sounds are here, too; for instance, a pencil scratching during a sketch. There is some understated animation— a blinking eye, a twinkling star, the re-creation of some brush strokes. Occasionally, there are words from the artist about his work or his process. Some episodes, especially when a single painting is featured rather than panels of multiple pieces, feel more immersive than others. The dark, blue night paintings work best, providing a dreamlike ambience that is not present during, say, the sequences of personal portraits, or the boat scenes.

You can sit or walk around slowly and observe different sections of the room. Of course, this being 2022, this whole show is also an opportunity to just take copious pictures of yourself and your companions against awesome backgrounds. The show welcomes this (and welcomes “Influencers” in particular on its website). I am struck, during one section of the show that fills the room with Van Gogh’s own oil paint selfies, by the intriguing double layer of self-regarding moments taking place here. Van Gogh: here I am in this big furry hat, now a straw one, smoking a pipe, with a shaved head, with my bandaged ear. San Diegans: here I am making my peace sign, embracing my date, pulling down my mask so I can smile for the camera.

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