By Stephen Johnson
I have always been interested in art but have never taken the time to learn more about the subject. I thought visiting the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit at Lansdowne Park was a good place to start.
The first thing I noticed about the Van Gogh exhibit was how the venue for the exhibit had been completely transformed. The Aberdeen Pavillon has hosted many events including professional hockey, cattle shows, and farmers’ market. To the best of my knowledge, it has never housed a major art exhibition. The organizers of Beyond Van Gogh have to be commended. They have created Aberdeen into a venue that would be worthy in London or New York.
A person starts the Van Gogh experience by going through a brief Covid screening. Tickets are timed allowing the venue to never go over-capacity.
For the exhibition portion, a visitor first learns about the life and times of Van Gogh. Of course, almost everyone knows about Van Gogh cutting off his ear. The information panels gave a much broader view of the painter and his influences. I learned what a close relationship Van Gogh had with his brother Vincent.
Once we had viewed the information panels, we headed to the main exhibition hall. We were treated to a forty minute interactive display of Van Gogh’s works. Using cutting edge projection technology, Van Gogh’s paintings are transformed into almost a living, breathing entity. Set to music, Van Gogh’s paintings swirled around the Aberdeen pavillon from floor to ceiling. I will give an example. For one painting, the petals of a flower immersed the entire space. At one point, I checked my lap to make sure there were not any petals.
Coming with young children, don’t be worried. I saw one small boy probably no older than three transfixed by the exposition. Our son, David, who is thirteen loved the experience as well.
Once we had finished the exposition, we checked out the gift shop. They sold all modes of Van Gogh souvenirs from t-shirts to bookmarks.
Leaving the gift shop with a bookmark and t-shirt in hand, we literally walked right into the Ottawa Farmer’s Market. We were treated to the aroma of fresh coffee beans. We picked up a couple of packets feeling like we had already had a full day even though it was still ten minutes shy of noon.
The Beyond Van Gogh exhibit will be going on until September 16. The exposition is open from 10 am – 11 pm so there is no excuse not to visit. For more details and to order tickets, visit, www.vangoghottawa.com