Van Gogh in Belgium, the country where he found his true calling to be an artist

You may have heard that the Van Gogh 3D exhibit is in town. It’s only fitting that this spectacular tribute to the Dutch post-impressionist painter has found its way to the country where he discovered his vocation to be an artist. Vincent van Gogh stayed in Belgium from 1879 to 1880, the period in his life when he made the decision and commitment to pursue art. 

Borinage, the Belgian coal mining district where Van Gogh found his calling

Although he had been drawing since childhood, Van Gogh never really thought about taking up a career as an artist. His original ambition was to become a pastor. After years of drifting from one job to another, he tried to get into a theology school in Amsterdam in 1878, but he never made it past the entrance exam.

In 1879, Van Gogh moved to the Belgian district of Borinage to work as a missionary preacher in the coal mining villages of Petit-Wasmes and Cuesmes. Ten months of living among miners became a major turning point in his life. He developed a special interest in the people and the scenes surrounding him. It inspired him to draw more passionately and to create some of his earliest paintings. It was during this period that he realized what he really wanted to be – an artist.

Coal mine in the Borinage by Vincent van Gogh, 1879

Fate certainly made sure that Van Gogh would set out in the direction of his true calling. He was dismissed from the Borinage mission because of his measly lifestyle, a result of his decision to give up all comfort and live like a pauper in solidarity with the miners he served. Religious authorities found this behavior too exaggerated and too undignified for a preacher.

The Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels where Van Gogh received his first formal art training in 1880

Brussels, the city where Van Gogh began his formal art training

After leaving the Borinage, Van Gogh moved to Brussels in 1880 with his mind set on becoming an artist. Upon the advise of his brother, Theo, he studied art with Dutch painter Willem Roelofs who was living in the city. Following his teacher’s advice, Van Gogh enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts where he studied modelling and perspective. It was his first formal training in art.

From then on, Van Gogh never turned back. After his formation in Belgium, he went on to become the great painter that the world would never forget. He may have been too misunderstood and unappreciated during his time, but his revolutionary post-impressionistic style changed the course of history and influenced generations of artists after him. He produced more than 2,000 artworks including oil paintings and drawings of landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits.

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

Van Gogh, the Immersive Experience in Brussels

And now, Van Gogh is back in the country where his life and journey as an artist began. The 3-dimensional Van Gogh exhibition in Brussels will allow you to step into the universe of the phenomenal artist and rediscover his life and works. You can relax and lie down on the mat-covered floor or sit in one of the deckchairs while enjoying the 360-degree exhibit. Before you go, don’t miss the sensational virtual reality tour of the important places that inspired Van Gogh’s most famous paintings. 

Van Gogh, the Immersive Experience runs until January 27 at the Brussels Stock Exchange (La Bourse).

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