Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the wonderful Van Gogh exhibition at 문화역서울 284 (Cultural Station 284). The building is the European-style former Seoul Station, which has been beautifully repurposed into an art gallery/cultural space, and is located (though somewhat shrinking in comparison) next to the sleek new glass station. A lack of time meant that we only managed to cram in a visit when we heard it was the very last day and panicked, but I’m so glad we did; despite the crowds – apparently everyone else was as disorganised as us – the experience was magical. The exhibition was designed as a more creative and interactive way to showcase some of Van Gogh’s most famous works, all while sharing information about his life. A huge variety of screens, projectors, and speakers were enlisted to fulfil this, with four rooms showcasing different themes and artwork based on different significant places the artist had spent time during his life.
I. 뉘넨의 또 다른 해돋이 – Another Sunrise in Nuenen
This first room featured screens of different shapes and sizes displaying work by Van Gogh and a host of his peers. Some of the paintings had been cleverly animated, and the multitude of screens around the room gave almost too much choice as to where to look.
II. 파리의 화창한 어느 날 – A Fine Day in Paris
This section featured a slideshow of information about Van Gogh and some of his influences, surrounded on all sides (and often on the ceiling) by projections of his work and those that inspired him. Other than the standard facts, I didn’t know a great deal about Van Gogh before entering, and though the information was of course all in Korean, what I could glean was very informative. I was particularly interested to learn that he had been greatly influenced by Japanese art, which was something I had never previously considered.
At the back of the room was a great section for children, which had several framed photographs of various locations that had inspired some of Van Gogh’s paintings. With one of the tablets provided, the children were able to ‘scan’ the photo and reveal the finished painting of said place.
III. 아를의 별이 빛나는 밤에 – Arles’ Starry Night
This was the smallest room in the exhibition, which meant that we weren’t keen on staying for too long. I’m sure on a normal day, it would have been possible to spend more time here and enjoy it to the fullest; nevertheless, seeing The Starry Night enveloping the room was breathtaking.
On the way to the final room was a virtual reality area, which under normal circumstances I would have leapt at the chance to partake in. However, unsurprisingly
there was an enormous queue, and with another engagement, I didn’t have enough time to wait. Given the quality of the rest of the other sections, I’m sure this would have been wonderful to experience, particularly as it was based on Van Gogh’s The Night Café, allowing visitors to look around the painting as if they were inside it.
IV. 오베르의 푸른 밀밭에서 – The Wheat Fields of Aubert
This last room was perhaps the most impressive in terms of innovative projector use; the entire ceiling was beautifully transformed into different canvases, with the texture of the paint almost tangible. Plus, the details of the room itself, from the fireplaces to the extravagant light fixtures, added another intriguing dimension.
Overall, I’m so glad I was able to visit this exhibition while I still had the chance. Because of the painstaking detail required for each room, it wasn’t enormous, and thus ideally it would have been nice to look round on a less crowded day, so as to have been able to take everything in properly. However, I have no-one to blame but myself for this, and though we had to fight our way round at certain points, it was more than worth it.
Unfortunately, Van Gogh Inside has now finished. It ran from 2016.1.8 – 4.17.
문화역서울 284/Seoul Cultural Station 284 can be found at 1, Tongil-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul / 서울특별시 중구 통일로 1 (봉래동2가). It is located right next to exit 2 of the new Seoul Station.