“Red Flowers are Red Young Man” – Van Gogh begs to differ

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8
– at the Van Gogh Immersive Experience

Okay, so we have talked about art before, and it will doubtless come up again. Rebekah and I are drawn not just to the beauty of it, but the story too. Art is a way of interpreting life, of articulating our relationship to things both temporal and eternal. Art is in many ways a form of prayer.

I appreciate a wide variety of expressions, but I am particularly – but not exclusively – drawn to work that tells a bigger, deeper, more complex story than the almost photo-accurate work of the realists. If I could have a small gallery of my own, featuring the original work of just five artists, I think I would choose Van Gogh, Turner, Monet, Cézanne, and Rembrandt.

So yesterday, six months after purchasing our tickets, Rebekah and I spent the afternoon absorbed in the work of Vincent Van Gogh at “Van Gogh Raleigh: The Immersive Experience.”

You could read this post and scroll through my photos – and I hope that you do, but so much better would be to purchase tickets and go to the exhibit yourself. The publicity suggests 75-90 minutes, but Rebekah and I were there two and a half hours because there is so much to take in.

I believe that Van Gogh himself would have enjoyed such an experience. Because what the exhibition achieves is to pull the viewer into the paintings themselves. Some of the 360-degree projections, including movement, shifts in color and light, and then blending one painting into the next, not sure where one ends and the next begins, are – I believe – an invitation into the mind, the imagination, and the creativity of the artist.

There is some debate as to Van Gogh’s state of mind, maybe if he was color blind, and as to the emotions he was experiencing; but I am convinced he could see with unusual clarity and that he saw colors both truly/accurately and in ways dictated by his boundless and often overwhelming creativity.

Van Gogh was/is not only able to see the world differently, but he was/is inviting us – challenging us – to do the same.

It is no coincidence that Rebekah and I watched a deep-dive documentary into the life and work of singer-songwriter Harry Chapin the other day. One of Chapin’s most incisive observations comes through his poignant song, Flowers are Red.

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen
But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and i see every one

Harry Chapin

Like the little boy in Chapin’s song, Vincent Van Gogh could see “so many colors in the rainbow…” and he could also see colors most of us fail to see because we need the eyes and the souls of artists sometimes to help us to see.

In a sense I experience Jesus as an artist, one who teaches me to see with new eyes, one who reminds me that the status quo is not sacrosanct, one who challenges me to not only look but to see, to absorb the beauty and the lessons of creation and to expand my spirit.

Van Gogh is an artist who helps me to expand my spirit.

There is so much to see. Here are a few photos from our afternoon in Raleigh, having not only looked, but having dived into the work and absorbed some of the wonder and the richness (and the angst and the pain) of the world Vincent Van Gogh experienced.

Peace, beauty, light, and love – DEREK

Here is our journey, our immersion; enjoy:

One comment

  1. Chuck & I went to the Van Gogh Immersive here in Columbus. It was a fabulous experience. Like you, we stayed and watched the entire program twice. So much to take in!

    Liked by 2 people

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