PAINTING: Seeing Van Gogh in a new light

Vincent Van Gogh had a difficult life. Little did he know he would become a big name as a post-Impressionist painter. PHOTOS BY GERARD SEGUIA



One of the world’s most iconic painters, Vincent Van Gogh, had a difficult life as he struggled with mental illness, poverty and being accepted into society. He dealt with psychotic episodes and delusions and was considered as a madman and failure.


After a brief job as an art dealer and unfinished studies to become a pastor, he turned to art because of his growing interest in people and scenes around. With more than 2,000 paintings — a number of which are done en plein air or the act of painting outdoors — Van Gogh was only able to sell one, before his suicide at age 37.

The executives who helped bring ‘Van Gogh Alive’ to Manila: Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (BAFI) Trustee Charlie Rufino, Bonifacio Global City Head Commercial Operations Myra Ocampo, BAFI Managing Director Maria Isabel Garcia, BAFI CFO Lourdes Reyes and Ayala Land Inc. Vice President Manny Blas


Ultimately, ‘Van Gogh Alive’ wants visitors to feel ‘the raging fire in a master artist’s heart’ over 150 years ago.


Unlike stagings in other countries, the Manila leg does not boast of the usual floor to ceiling projection.


Van Gogh has oil paintings as his signature and his subjects range from himself, still life, sunflowers, landscapes and more. Little did he know, he would become a big name as a post-Impressionist painter, he would have a dedicated museum in Amsterdam and his works would be worth more than he ever expected.

His paintings are known all over the world, and this season, Filipinos will have the chance to see some of his works live through a solo digital exhibit.

Titled “Van Gogh Alive,” the experience is done through projecting his paintings on screens along with his quotes and other interesting information about his life. Created by Grande Exhibitions and brought around the world, it is meant to immerse guests within the artist’s life with a 45-minute presentation through Sensory4, the system that combines motion graphics, cinema quality sound and high definition projectors. These are matched by playing classical music from the time of his paintings. Unlike the stagings in other countries, however, the Manila leg only has a small area with his works projected on screens instead of the usual floor to ceiling.

“‘Van Gogh Alive’ is not Van Gogh trying to be relevant 150 years later. He need not try. He’s the very same genius up close and personal, navigating your soul in the language of nuanced light — from tender cobalt blues and reticent creams to raging yellows — with the musical genius of Bach, Schubert and Vivaldi, among others,” shared Maria Isabel Garcia, Managing Director/Curator of the Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. at the media preview.

“We hope that you will not be mere passers by or simply selfie takers, who will just notice a hint of human spirit here and there. We aim for you to feel the raging fire in a master artist’s heart over 150 years ago,” added Garcia.

When guests first walk into the gallery, there is an interactive replica of “Bedroom in Arles,” along with the stories and information of some of his famous paintings. The second part of the gallery is where the projections and stories are shown. Though the gallery only shows images, the brush strokes are still detailed and the emotions are brought through the music.

It is recommended to keep phones on silent in order to properly understand and pay respect. Photos are allowed, but guests need to be mindful not to cover the art. Also, the best way to enjoy and learn would be to sit on one of the benches throughout the exhibition.

Asked by The Sunday Times Magazine about how Van Gogh would feel about his life and paintings being halfway across the world, Garcia answered, “I don’t think he would understand what’s going on. He could barely understand his emotions. I don’t even want to venture and guess what he would feel.”

However, Garcia emphasized that art is meant to communicate and transform thoughts and emotions.

“But [if you think about] the beauty and power of art, and the power of gratitude — that art could reach down its hand across time and touch people across spaces, across the globe, you’ll feel the same amount of gratitude for the generosity and passion that Van Gogh has shared with us.”

“Van Gogh Alive” is open until December 8 at the 4th floor of One Bonifacio High Street, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City./  By Nika Roque

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