I have had the seriously fun pleasure of enjoying the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit that is up at the James Brown Arena not once but twice! While I enjoyed it the first time, it was in the second walk through with my family that I was able to engage with Van Gogh not just for the beauty of the show, but for the learning and understanding that came from it as well.
I have always loved Van Gogh’s work and I have visited his pieces in museums around the world. In this show, it was driven home how the loving relationship with his brother, Theo, truly shaped his ability to keep trying as he struggled to bring out his love, despair, and hope in his work. But then…the giant room filled with enormous projections of his works, animated to bring our attention to his brush strokes and the energy with which he worked was roughly 40 minutes of pure joy.
Being able to bring my teenage son there, and see his understanding of the joy and creativity of a painter interpreting the world around him was irreplaceable. Additionally, the whole experience was wonderfully calm and joyful. The curator chose to highlight Van Gogh’s work and his joy in it, rather than his descent into madness and ultimate despair. I appreciated that so much, because it is so easy to see someone who has struggled with their inner demons and only see the demons, and not the enormous love.