Run don’t walk to Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. It’s ten times better than you think.

People see a part of the 360-degree immersive show depicting Van Gogh’s life through his art at the Van Gogh Immersive art exhibition at the MarqE Entertainment Center on Friday, September 17, 2021 in Houston , Texas.

Photo: Justin Rex / Chronicle

When a Vincent Van Gogh-themed installation stole the spotlight on Netflix’s “Emily in Paris,” an artistic trend was born. The race to bring to American soil the large-scale projected paintings of the Dutch master.

After successful emerging tours in Atlanta, New York, Miami, Dallas and Las Vegas, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” has finally landed in Houston. The traveling exhibition was initially scheduled to debut in Bayou City in August.

Now, wait for it. On Friday, production partners Entertainment Hub and Fever opened their doors to “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” at the MarqE Entertainment Center.

“The biggest variable is always the building,” explained Mario Iacampo, CEO of Entertainment Hub. “It hadn’t been used for a while and the amenities, such as air conditioning, had to be relocated.”

The 20,000-square-foot space near Regal’s Edwards Cinema previously housed Candytopia. More than 300 performances of Van Gogh’s work have replaced lollipops and mint, which have since been moved to the CityCentre, although the experiential spectacle is still quite sweet.

‘Van Gogh: the immersive experience’

The 360-degree digital art experience, which projects more than 300 sketches, drawings and paintings by Vincent van Gogh using video mapping technology, finally opens at the MarqE Entertainment Center in Houston. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a “10-minute virtual reality journey through a day in the artist’s life”.

When: Until January 2, 2022

On: MarqE Entertainment Center, 7620 Interstate 10 W.

Details: Tickets start at $ 19.90 per child, at $ 34.90 per adult; vangoghexpo.com/houston

Critics will argue that most of the immersive experiences that have emerged in recent years are basically social media fodder. And make no mistake.

Museums and art galleries can be intimidating. “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is an expensive alternative, though it includes a major influence on Instagram.

Priced at $ 34.90 for adults and $ 19.90 for children, ticket holders receive an art history lesson and an endless buffet of selfie options. Do you want to skip the queues? Upgrade to VIP and get an additional virtual reality experience, which is also available as a supplement for $ 5 and is worth every penny.

MORE ART IMAGES: ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’ among the top five fine arts options this week

But this is the last stop on the tour. The exhibition opens with an imposing 3D sculpture by the artist. Video projections convey variations of your face in a loop. It’s trippy and themed.

Nearby, a timeline over Van Gogh stretches across an entire wall. For their merit, the section labels provide a broad context and insight into the problematic life of the post-impressionist painter. Notable citations are also scattered through the zigzag galleries.

“Tree Roots,” his latest work, wraps around another wall near the entrance. He took his own life hours after it was completed. Along the way, another XL sculpture embraces a dark corner; this one, a vase, is transformed between the various “Vase with Irises” by Van Gogh and “Roses”. He’s less tripled than his bust, though he’s still charming.

A series of 11 “sunflowers” lying on canvas surrounds a hallway. In the next room, visitors enter Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles.” The illustrations on the white camera on the floor suggest where viewers should be positioned to get the most photographic angle of the artist’s unique residence in the Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

It is a thoughtful and current touch. The following space, however, does not require special instructions.

The immersive room is the main attraction and does not disappoint. A total of 360-degree video projections are transmitted to surfaces, including flooring and furniture, in a 35-minute loop. “Almond Blossoms” and “Starry Night” come to life as the voice-over and classical music are built and finally come to a crescendo.

“The immersion room is always irregular and unique to the individual building, which gives it its own flavor,” Iacampo said with a wink.

Here, the first visitors had an advantage. Some felt comfortable in the armchairs and let the images literally wash them away. Others recorded everything on their mobile, #nofilter. Once the doors opened to the public at 10 a.m., the young children danced to the custom soundtrack for the exhibit.

There are also other moments for children. They can “create a masterpiece” of their own in a craft room full of crayons, coloring pages, and table stations lit with lamps.

In the final space, the virtual reality experience, the VIP guests travel through “A day in the life of the artist in Arles”, a vivid succession of eight works that must be made believe.

The wait for “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is finally over. And yes, it was worth it.

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  • Amber Elliott

    Amber Elliott covers the arts and society in the Houston Chronicle.

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