Questions for Immersive Van Gogh Creator, Massimilliano Siccardii
An Interview with Richard Ouzounian
Massimiliano Siccardi studied at the London School of Contemporary Dance, but left the world of dance in 1990 to begin a new journey in the world of video art. Massimiliano quickly became a widely acclaimed artistic force, creating video projections for the ballets of numerous choreographers around the world.
Since 2012, he has become celebrated throughout the world for the numerous immersive shows he has created, inspired by the work of painters, most notably Van Gogh. He currently has projects in the works in Europe and North America, where his visual creations have been welcomed by record-breaking audiences.
When were you first drawn to the work of Van Gogh?
As a child my mother collected prints of the greats of painting, Van Gogh among them, and I was always drawn to his works. I couldn’t fully understand the subjects at that young age, but the expressive power of his colours – yellow in particular – and the almost mythical tales of his madness that I heard drew me to him.
In 2010, I worked on my first Van Gogh project, which mainly dealt with his time in Arles with Gauguin, and then in 2018, I was commissioned to do a new work on Van Gogh, but was instructed to concentrate on the “beautiful” territory, leaving out the “crazy” part that particular producer considered too strong for his audience.
Last year, thanks to Marco Realino, who has woven and managed the relationships, I had the first meeting with Corey and Svetlana in Toronto, and told them that I wanted to do a new work on “Vincent” and not on “Van Gogh.” It was clear to me that the madness I had always instinctively glimpsed in his brush strokes had to come out powerfully, with a story that had as its focus not just the man of art, the man of vision, but also the man with his demons.
What made you decide to undertake such a massive examination of his life and works?
I had a clear concept: we see what Vincent sees, we live his experience, we are Vincent in the instant before he dies.
For this reason, the structure of our work is not chronological, but starts from that fateful moment, giving us the opportunity to experience his way of looking at the world, knowing all of its desolation and its magnificence.
As he wrote in a letter to his brother Théo, “I see the world in all of its violent beauty…. as no one sees it but me.”
Why did you feel an immersive presentation was the best way to illuminate Van Gogh to us?
The work of the last 20 years in immersive art has allowed me to experiment in huge and interesting spaces and the opportunity to refine this visual language.
Immersive art can push the borders of art into more personal experience. The viewers live in the space and, with their mere presences, modify the perception of the work.
This medium for me is pure emotion. We leave the mind free to welcome the new and the beautiful, along with the crazy and the violent. My past as a dancer, choreographer, director and photographer is all in this work, where the imagination is as fluid as a solo of a man alone in the middle of the universe.
What would you like us to feel about Van Gogh after seeing this exhibit?
I wish everyone could see him with a soul free from hidden thoughts. I wish their vision could be both light and dark. I would like everyone to leave the exhibition and say, “Hello Vincent. It’s nice to have met you on the journey.”