Pokémon and van Gogh? Sounds good to me

Art, Commerce, and Finding Harmony: Reflections on the Van Gogh Museum’s Collaboration with Pokémon

Last week, news broke about a surprising collaboration between the Van Gogh Museum and Pokémon. Initially, I had mixed feelings about this unexpected pairing. I couldn’t help but question the compatibility between the iconic artist and the beloved game franchise. The concept felt somewhat crass – a marriage of art and commerce. But after some contemplation, I began to reconsider my initial reservations. Maybe Pokémon and van Gogh could create a unique and interesting combination? After all, art and commerce have always been closely intertwined. And perhaps, there isn’t a “bad” way to connect with art. These thoughts led me down a path of self-reflection, challenging my own gatekeeping tendencies.

Discovering the Power of Fierce Art Appreciation

Art has played a significant role in my life since my early childhood. My mother, an art history enthusiast, frequently took my sister and me to art galleries. Although I didn’t fully appreciate the paintings at the time, I absorbed my mother’s passion and unwavering love for the artists she admired. She ardently supported Constable while harboring a disdain for Turner. I vividly recall an incident in the Clore Gallery where she couldn’t contain her expletive-laden frustration at the sight of Turner’s seascapes. Looking back, I appreciate the fervor she exhibited towards the art she cherished. It inspired me to develop my own opinions and preferences. Eventually, my disinterest transformed into curiosity, and now, three decades later, I proudly pass down the tradition by taking my own child to the National Gallery.

Perspectives of a New Generation

However, my daughter, growing up in the age of slime videos and loom bands, experiences a different kind of disinterest when it comes to art. For her, it’s not boredom but frustration that stems from a desire to physically interact with the artwork. Faced with this challenge, I decided to take her to Van Gogh Alive in Brighton. The exhibition showcased van Gogh’s paintings projected onto various surfaces, accompanied by immersive music. While many art enthusiasts dismiss such experiences as mere blockbusters, my daughter found herself captivated. For an hour, she sat on the floor, engrossed in the swirling images surrounding her. She reached out, trying to grasp van Gogh’s brushstrokes, even though they were nothing more than light. This experience taught me an important lesson – there is no wrong way to connect with art.

Unveiling the World of van Gogh

Prior to my visit to Van Gogh Alive, I possessed limited knowledge about the artist. Beyond the common facts everyone knows, I hadn’t delved deep into van Gogh’s work. However, the exhibition provided me with two significant revelations. Firstly, I became acutely aware of the sheer volume of van Gogh’s paintings. Unlike other painters who created a limited number of works, van Gogh produced an extraordinary amount – over 900 canvases. The relentless repetition and variation in his art reminded me of the never-ending narratives found in the stories of Philip K. Dick. Each painting represented van Gogh’s dedication and the profound impact art had on his life. Secondly, the exhibition introduced me to van Gogh’s lesser-known pieces – the urban scenery, delicate still-lives, and vibrant plants beyond his iconic sunflowers. I was reminded of my mother’s passion as I marveled at these exquisite compositions.

Looking Beyond Surface-Level Harmonies

While one could argue that van Gogh and Pokémon share a natural affinity due to their emphasis on nature and attentive observation, I believe the real interest lies in the juxtaposition of their differences. It’s easy to seek superficial harmonies, but there’s something more intriguing about embracing the contrasts between the two. As for the notion that van Gogh was one of the unhappiest artists, it is an oversimplification. Art and life are nuanced, and reducing them to such a narrow perspective does a disservice to their complexity.

The Inseparable Connection Between Art and Commerce

Finally, I must address the age-old debate surrounding art and commerce. It is a futile endeavor to separate the two. In fact, attempting to do so only results in self-defeat. Art has always been intertwined with commerce throughout history. Ignoring this fact dismisses the critical role that art plays in the livelihood of countless individuals worldwide. From the patronage of the church to modern-day transactions, the intersection of art and commerce has shaped our cultural landscape. Rather than resist this connection, we should seek to understand and appreciate its significance.