Meeting Vincent in Melbourne

It’s winter and a great time to embrace the season, reflect and contemplate. Where better, and what better than a Van Gogh winter masterpiece exhibition in Melbourne?

Titled Van Gogh and the Seasons, this outstanding National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) exhibition showcases the remarkable genius of a man who lived to just 37, but was so prolific, he left a legacy of 1100 drawings and sketches and 900 paintings – 2000 works of genius – of which only one was sold while he was alive.

The NGV is always worth a visit; the water wall, Great Hall and extraordinary treasures within deserve a day or three to explore. But this year’s Van Gogh exhibition provides reason in itself to make a trip to Melbourne and to immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s extraordinary celebration of nature’s seasons. Some advice. Make sure that you get there early, as the queues are massive, particularly at the weekend.

Van Gogh and the Seasons starts with a brief slide show, chronicling the artist’s life, influences and connection with the seasons. Narrated by the two Davids (Stratton and Wenham) it provides excellent context to Van Gogh’s inspiration, work and life journey.

Next, a selection of NGV prints reflects the type of works in Van Gogh’s own personal collection (housed in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam) which he used as stimulation and inspiration for his work. In particular, the Japanese woodblock prints by artists including Katsuchika Hokusai had a profound effect upon Van Gogh’s artistic sensibility and his use of colour.

‘Prints form a kind of bible for an artist in which he heads now and again to get into a mood’

After the extensive prints display, four large spaces house original Van Gogh works dedicated to autumn, winter, spring and summer.

‘It is something to be deep in the snow’

Vincent’s words, too, adorn the walls. He is playful, first declaring to love all seasons equally, then admitting to secretly admiring autumn above all others. Who knows the truth, but his colourful representations of trees, skies, fruits, flowers and landscapes simply burst from the many canvases. It’s simply not possible to describe the joy and reverence with which Van Gogh represents nature’s many moods – you just have to go and see it for yourself.

‘As long as autumn lasts I won’t have enough hands, canvas or colours to paint the beautiful things that I see.’

Here’s a taste of what you can expect to see, although it’s worth remembering that these images will pale in comparison to standing in front of the real thing …

Where: NGV, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

When: 28 April until 9 July

Tickets on sale now from NGV Melbourne

Adult $28 / Concession $24.50 / Child $10 / Family (2 adults, 3 children) $65

This exhibition has broken all records, so plan a mid-week visit and arrive at least 20 minutes before opening time. Or maybe enjoy a Friday night viewing, with a glass of wine and music afterwards.

Stay: Visitors to Melbourne can take advantage of midweek breaks with special discounts at many hotel chains. Try Hilton Doubletree in Flinders Street. Or if art is your ‘thang’ go the whole hog at one of the Art Series inner-Melbourne hotels, The Cullen, The Olsen or The Blackman.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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