What if Vincent van Gogh rode the subway, shopped at Trader Joe’s, made latte art, and swiped Tinder, just like any other struggling painter in Brooklyn? That’s the premise of “The Van Gogh Show,” an upcoming web series starring Bed-Stuy resident Robert Reynolds, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Dutch post-impressionist artist.Reynolds, 36, rose to Internet fame last month when a Reddit user posted a photo of him riding the G train, juxtaposed with a self-portrait by Van Gogh. “Living in NYC, I have strangers come up 3 or 4 times a week and say, ‘Hey… I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you look exactly like [Van Gogh].’ Now, if somebody could just write me a script,” Reynolds commented on the post. In the following weeks, Reynolds was courted by script writers, and has begun developing the web series in collaboration with director friend Caitlin Davis. In a series of 5-minute comedy shorts, the show will modernize events and characters in the painter’s life (the loss of his ear; his friendship with artist Paul Gaugin). As teasers, they’ve put 21st-century twists on some Van Gogh masterpieces (i.e. “Starry NYC”).
It’s far from the first contemporary pop-culture phenomenon to draw inspiration from the 19th-century painter’s life and work: Van Gogh’s paintings have been turned into haute couture by the likes of Rodarte and Viktor & Rolf and reinterpreted as comic strips; and his death was the subject of a recent animated film rendered in the style of his oil compositions. This week, American artist Mac Cauley debuted a 3-D virtual reality experience based on the painting “The Night Cafe.” But reanimating Van Gogh in 2015 Brooklyn is a totally new endeavor. Maybe it will start a straw hat and severed ear trend.