Entertainment

Drive-in digital art exhibit allows visitors to 'Gogh by car'

An upcoming digital art exhibit featuring the work of Vincent van Gogh in Toronto is planning to open next month, but in light of current physical distancing guidelines, will function as a drive-in.

Vincent van Gogh exhibition in Toronto is first of its kind in era of physical distancing

A new Vincent van Gogh exhibit in Toronto will operate as an immersive drive-in to adhere to physical distancing and health guidelines related to COVID-19. (Immersive van Gogh exhibition)

An upcoming digital art exhibit featuring the work of Vincent van Gogh is planning to open next month in Toronto, but you'll need a car to get in.

The large-scale exhibition, which was initially supposed to begin May 1 but couldn't open as a result of the pandemic, will temporarily operate as a drive-in starting June 18 to adhere to current COVID-19 physical distancing and health guidelines.

The exhibit's producers said after a year of working on the original plan and purchasing the rights to more than 400 pieces from different museums, they didn't want to give up on the project — especially when people might be craving options for arts and culture.

"We just had to pivot," said co-producer Svetlana Dvoretsky. "People have to see the light at the end of the tunnel and also the light during this situation."

Art lovers will drive into the 4,000 square foot downtown industrial space and will stay inside their vehicles. It's quite a change from the original concept, which permitted 700 people to walk inside the space at a time.

The temporary drive-thru exhibit, set to open June 18, will include some of van Gogh's most famous works, including Starry Night and many self-portraits. (Immersive van Gogh exhibit)

The drive-in, the first of its kind in a post-pandemic era, will allow 14 vehicles per time slot. Visitors will park, turn off their engines and watch a 35-minute show while remaining inside their cars.

"The lights go down and the projection begins," said co-producer Corey Ross. "It will be almost as if the car is floating through the paintings."

The exhibit includes some of the Dutch painter's most well-known masterpieces, including Starry Night, Sunflowers and many self-portraits. It also attempts to chronicle the famed artist's tragic demise through the works.

"It's not that you just walk in and see the display of his paintings. That, you can see in a museum," said Dvoretsky.

"What our artists have done with this exhibit is they take you inside the painting ... They're trying to show us their version of how the story is born in the mind of the genius."

Exhibit co-producer Corey Ross says 'it will be almost as if the car is floating through the paintings.' (Immersive van Gogh exhibit)

The Gogh by Car exhibit is an interim alternative to the walk-through van Gogh exhibit at the same location, which has been postponed until at least July due to COVID-19 restrictions. But the producers say the "test drive" could continue beyond its currently scheduled 11-day preview if public gatherings are still limited over the summer.

Dvoretsky says demand was high for the walk-through exhibit pre-COVID. About 20,000 tickets had been sold in advance.

The installation has been designed by the creators of the successful Paris-based digital art project Atelier des Lumières, which received more than two million visitors before the global shutdown. 

Tickets for Gogh by Car cost $100 per vehicle (motorcycles and bikes aren't allowed), which covers two people. The price of admission will also include entrance into the original walk-through exhibit upon its re-opening. Both are located at the Toronto Star's former printing presses on Yonge Street. Tickets will be sold online.

Watch this video for a taste of the exhibit:

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.