Imagine Van Gogh worth the trip . . .


Saturday, Feb. 1st - We returned last week to the area of Montreal where career choices had landed us in the late 1980's. Not that it's uncommon for us to be in one of our favorite cities at any given time, but we had fallen out of the habit of dropping by Canada's largest multilingual city. Mostly due to the on=going road construction.

     Montreal today is bustling. Construction everywhere. Roadwork, city-centre development in high-rise residential accommodation, and continued development of office space. Much of the old city identity is gone. Completely! And there are signs the road work encountered while entering the city form Ontario is finally showing signs of completion.

     Our day trip was two fold. As always, we love to eat in Montreal. It's that multi-sensory thrill of almost Europe in the tastes and sounds enjoyed while immersed in the now fading visuals of European influenced architecture and fashion. And it was to see works by Vincent Van Gogh.


     Montreal is now a city working to be recognized! Including as an international art destination. The greater community has welcomed works by Vincent Van Gogh for an immersive exhibition. The  display is housed in the 19th-century, Lachine shipyard area, in the heart of Old Montreal, one-time Griffintown, at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal, 2020 William Street, Montreal. The series of exhibition halls offer 80,000 square feet and each offer a variety of contemporary art exhibitions annually.

     The exhibition, Imagine Van Gogh, is specifically designed to include the full age spectrum of followers who will find themselves not only immersed in the works, but as the works roll back and forth both vertically and horizontally, experiencing a connection to the great master Vincent Van Gogh.

     The concept of Imagine Van Gogh is comparatively over-the-top. Patrons are invited to stand among huge viewing screens, floor to ceiling, projected images of Van Gogh works highlighting detail and color as though it were alive.

     Visitors will see some 200 paintings by the artist, including Van Gogh's most recognized pieces, mastered  through the late 1880's and into the 1890's in Provence, Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise.


                               - from the Arsenal's promotional material

Stages of the Exhibition. . .

     Imagine Van Gogh, designed by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron (longtime collaborators on projects at Cathédrale d’images), is a direct continuation of Albert Plécy’s concept of the “Image Totale”.

     The post-impressionist and even expressionist character of Van Gogh’s work, particularly that from the last two years of his life, creates a boundless playground of opportunities for the exhibition’s directors. Van Gogh delighted in painting what he saw, but he distorted and exaggerated all figuration. As a result, the scope of interpretative possibilities proliferates as the canvases become fragmented and subtle details are punctuated.

     This original presentation, obtained through the mastery of dimension and space with an additional poetic touch, is not seeking to simply reiterate what already exists, but rather to author a new poem. The Starry Night, for example, is magnified by a precise division of the painting, accentuating the detail of its movements and the isolation of its stars. The end result creates an enchanting fiction, exploding across the entire projection surface.

     Visitors enter a room that utilizes the full dimensions of the central exhibition space. Various 3D surfaces provide the opportunity to exploit the effects of fragmented video projections in three-dimensional space, playing with visual cues and creating illusory effects for the viewer.

     The directors assert that the anachronism, inherent in presenting works with these modifications of scale, allows for new interpretations beyond the lecture du détail (literally the “reading of detail”), the interpretive framework preferred by Daniel Arasse in his book, Histoire de la peinture.



Technology at the service of art . . .

      It was between Provence and l’Ile-de-France that Vincent realized his most beautiful paintings. As visitors follow his itinerary, they discover Van Gogh’s pictorial work from this period. Their journey begins with a portrait of the artist, whose deep blue eyes seem to leap from the canvas as they stare back intensely.

      Sky and sun, landscapes, urban and rural backdrops, villagers, peasants, still lifes, along with the miseries and joys of humanity are all depicted in turn, colouring the canvas under the discerning eye of a painter contemplating the turn of the century.

     Imagine Van Gogh, is an exhibition where one can admire The Starry Night, Irises and Sunflowers, or be drawn into the intimacy of his Bedroom in Arles. An experience that brings viewers to the heart of its images, Imagine Van Gogh is accompanied by the music of the great composers Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Delibes and Satie.

     I you are planning a visit be reminded you will be in the Notre-Dame/Atwater area, steps from the Atwater Market if you visit during the day, steps from a wide variety of restaurtants along Notre-Dame open afternoon and evenings.