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Snap! Orlando executive director on ‘The Van Gogh Affect,’ art during the pandemic

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Photo by Emily Jourdan, courtesy of SnapOrlando.com

Art gallery Snap! Orlando’s latest exhibition, “The Van Gogh Affect,” takes a look at the life and work of the famous artist through the lens of two photographers. 

Patrick Kahn, the gallery’s executive director and co-curator, joins Intersection to discuss the exhibition, art in the age of social media and running an art gallery during a pandemic. 

“The Van Gogh Affect” features the work of two photographers, Lynn Johnson and Patricia Lanza, who captured places the artist visited.

“You’re retracing his journey,” Kahn says. “And you have the impression that you’re just next to him in this environment.”

One of the environments photographed is an asylum where Van Gogh spent one of the last years of his life. Kahn says today, the building is a refuge for women, who use painting to heal. The exhibit has an entire room dedicated to the documentation of these women.

“And the beautiful part is that they are seeing exactly what he was seeing from his window,” Kahn says. “His environment–that hasn’t changed at all.”

Kahn says the exhibition is timely because it’s introspective and requires visitors to spend time with each image to understand it and its context. 

“The fact that we are doing this increment of visitors that come very sparsely with social distancing and masks gives that context a lot of power,” he says. “It helps that people really spend time with the image.”

Kahn says maintaining COVID safety precautions in the gallery has been going smoothly, and he hopes to have a full-fledged, big opening of an exhibition in October. 

Kahn says that although you can create virtual exhibitions, there is a feeling that comes with being with artwork in person that can’t be replicated. 

“It’s almost…the same thing as, let’s say, reading a newspaper and being on the internet,” he says. “The smell of printing and the…turning the page that you are able to do this physically, is a human experience that you cannot replicate.”

Kahn says he thinks there’s going to be a resurgence of interest in art after the pandemic. 

“Art is food for the thoughts; food for the mind,” he says. “And it is something that is essential for the life of a city.”

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