The World’s First Virtual Reality Painting Exhibition is Coming to San Francisco

by Will Mason • June 3rd, 2015

Of all the experiences I have had in VR there is one that stands out above all the rest and that is Tilt Brush. There is something simply magical about being able to create something with your hands in VR. Turning a blank canvas into a beautiful creation has never before been so fun and so free.

But the best thing about art is sharing it with others, and that’s why Drew Skillman and Patrick Hackett (of Tilt Brush fame) have teamed up with Stefano Corazza (the creative director of the exhibition) and Olia Pospelova (production manager) to put on the world’s first virtual reality painting exhibition. Taking place on June 13th at the Grand Theater, the exhibition will feature art from four artists – including the art directors from DoubleFine and Mixamo (who were just recently acquired by Adobe).

The works on display will be representative of an entirely new medium of artwork – with an infinite blank canvas for artists to explore. Using Tilt Brush the artists have all created works of three-dimensional art using color, light, motion, and sound blended in a way never before possible.

In addition to the works on display – the event will feature a live art performance on the HTC Vive, but details on the performance are still under wraps. Patrons will be able to view the pieces on DK2 stations that will be set up around the gallery.

For those of you wondering what the heck I am talking about, Tilt Brush is an application created by Drew Skillman and Patrick Hackett that allows users to paint on a virtual canvas with all types of crazy brushes – everything from an oil paintbrush to painting with neon light. Originally released on the Oculus Rift DK2, Tilt Brush, is best experienced on the HTC Vive – where it makes amazing use of the platform’s room scale tracking.


This event is a preview of what is to come as the art world continues to ‘brush’ (had to) up against the world of emerging technology. I thoroughly expect that in the future we will have entire galleries of art that is created virtually but there are a number of tangential effects that will need to be addressed. For example, the art counterfeiting world and the software piracy world are likely to have some levels of collusion in the future especially as pieces begin to garner monetary value. This is something that would undoubtedly need to be addressed for a real VR gallery to exist.

One of the reasons that people go to galleries is to see the art in person for themselves – it’s simply a different experience when seeing the Mona Lisa in person versus on a screen and that’s why thousands of people pay good money every day to go see it. But when the art you are exhibiting is purely digital in it’s medium there’s not a lot of difference between experiencing it in a gallery versus in your chair at home. Because of this artists will have to work to keep their experiences tightly sealed and located only in physical galleries in order for (a) the galleries to create a draw, and (b) for the artists to be able to sell their work. How would you sell the artwork? What would an original versus a print copy look like for VR?  These are important questions that artists will have to ask as this medium matures.

Pontifications about the art market aside, virtual reality is the most creative medium we have and it only makes sense that we will see artists continue to flock to it and explore the wondrous possibilities that it enables. Impossible art just became possible – and I for one can’t wait to explore.


To learn more about the VR Painting Exhibition and to get tickets be sure to check out the website: www.paintingvirtualreality.com

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