Many have read of the Van Gogh exhibit being reproduced in cities across the globe. During these turbulent times it is no wonder many people are drawn to the artist’s life. The success of the exhibition, despite the global pandemic, had me thinking on a deeper level. I was eventually able to visit the much talked about art experience recently. Upon entering the sunflower themed archway, you find framed panels with snippets of art history and auction prices including the astronomically priced sold pieces of Van Gogh. The “Vase with Carnations” greets you in the next space, a beautifully rendered three-dimensional version depicting all the colorful versions of the original painting. With brilliant lighting, and special effects, it felt like one could hold the vase and smell the flowers. All around the room, one can find illuminated reproductions of Van Gogh ‘s most popular works, a vast number of florals. There are sunflowers galore in all sizes and variations paying tribute to the abundantly found flower in the Provence area Van Gogh loved so much.

In a corner is a recreation of Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, in the yellow house. Sitting in the chair placed in the room was an experience and a good photo opportunity. This was one of the thrills of the exhibition. This was a room Van Gogh adored. He deliberately distorted it in a trapezoid shape, to give the corner wall a skewed appearance. Perhaps to acknowledge a challenge he faced as an artist, of drawing perfectly straight lines. This was a place he had created to welcome fellow artists in an intimate atmosphere, and to honor them. Van Gogh was extremely proud of his rendition. In his own words, “I think this bedroom is my best work” His love of color is evident in the choices he made for the walls, furniture, pillows etc. The original bedroom had walls of purple, windows painted green and the furniture a golden hue reflective of the lavender fields of Provence in Southern France. In fact, he loved this painting so much, he recreated it two more times with subtle changes. This bedroom has rapidly become the most famous bedroom in art history. I found the paintings on the bedroom wall very interesting. These were paintings of his close friends Eugene Boch and Paul-Eugene Milliet.

At the end of the exhibits, in the large open space, the immersive version of the art is displayed on all four walls, a 360-degree projection including the carpeted floor, the benches, lounge chairs and floor poufs. Music and narration accompany the immersive experience, as the light, color, and movement extravaganza take your breath away. For a minute it was so easy to forget that we were in the midst of a serious pandemic, as we surreally visited 19th century Europe. The letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo are narrated throughout the projection, to give it a realistic feel. Although Van Gogh is known for his artistic talent, not much is said about his literary skills. What an extraordinary experience it was to feel bathed in colors as each painting is displayed and rotated in a stunning manner to arrest the senses, with glorious images of flowers, stars, and galaxies under your feet. 

Nature comes to life in a remarkably surreal way, whether you are transported to the starlit galaxy of “The Starry Night” or the haystacks in rural Europe or swaying among the almond trees, you feel the exhilaration of being alive. If you are a fan of purple as I am, you will enjoy the profusion of this color, and the sheer delight of being one with nature, a truly unforgettable experience. You feel the anguish of the sorrowing old man as he shakes in the corner, a reminder of Van Gogh ‘s own frustration and struggle with his illness and mental collapse. This painting titled “At Eternity’s Gate” seems a reflection of his agony, although conveying a message of hope and life.Whatever the mystery surrounding his death, the artwork he produced so rapidly during his abbreviated lifetime is a great source of joy and inspiration.

Midway through the presentation I was moved to tears, I started sobbing silently and uncontrollably. This is so unlike me as I am not a crier. Was it an overwhelming emotion that swept me away as an artist myself? Or was it a reflection of the genius Van Gogh, who faced critical abuse during his lifetime and is posthumously being celebrated and appreciated as the greatest post-impressionists of all time. Witnessing the total awe and wonder of fellow attendees seemed such a contrast to the rejection and contempt that Van Gogh experienced: A life of starvation, loneliness, and condemnation in his own native land, resulting in a tragic end.

The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting” Vincent Van Gogh.

By Gita Rash

Gita Rash is a certified fitness instructor, artist, actor, author and psychic medium. For more than 15 years she has been teaching and training as a life coach in several modalities. Her publications include “The low-fat Indian cookbook” and the recently released “The Mahabharata Oracle”. Her mission in life is to educate, assist, and guide people on their journey. Gita is a psychic medium utilizing her knowledge of tarot, runes, numerology, palmistry, and Vedic astrology to guide people with questions on love, health, relationships, etc. She has been deeply tuned to all things esoteric from an early age. As the daughter of a proficient palmist, she has imbibed a deep knowledge and passion for the metaphysical realm. Receiving clairaudient messages as a child, she truly loves helping others find peace, success, and personal happiness. Applying her psychic intuition, diverse cultural influences, and modern-day living realities in all aspects of her work, Gita is able to offer a unique approach to self-empowerment.She regularly holds workshops on various topics such as intuitive development and dream interpretation. Gita is a regular presenter at STAARCON and other Tarot conferences. Gita Rash has been painting since the last 22 years. Having the privilege of living on three continents, Asia, North America, and Europe, has provided her the exposure to different landscapes, cultures, and ways of life. Her inspiration to paint, came, while on a trip to the South of France, retracing the footsteps of painters like Vincent Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso Renoir, etc. The beauty and tranquility of the Provence area, the colorful fields of Poppy and Lavender instilled in her a desire to capture all that magic, translating it on canvas with oil paints. The unique French architecture of the medieval age provided a profound backdrop for her creations. Her influence in art deeply reflects her vast travels in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and her appreciation of ancient cultures and civilizations. She has received training at Galerie Nabis in France and The Art Students League of New York. Color expression is a big part of her creativity. What drives her to create, is an innate sense of expressing self, a need to stir the imagination, and assemble all ideas and inspirations. Above all, a desire to produce something for posterity. Gita has won many awards in local and State Art competitions. She has served in local art organizations like the Pocono Mountain Arts Council. She is involved with the artistic community of the Poconos and actively participates in the organization of local Art shows and events. Many pieces of her artwork are on permanent and temporary display throughout businesses in and around the Pocono Area. Some of her works are held in private and corporate collections in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Her painting of “The Poppy Fields” was featured on a Billboard on Route 611 in Mount Pocono as a touristic feature. She has held exhibitions in New York galleries. Recently commissioned works include that of Franklin Hill Vineyards. She currently resides in the Pocono Mountains, painting, teaching, acting and writing.

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