The Evolution of Art

Creation is a central component of human existence, as proven by our history. The first instance of human creation in visual art form is thought to be a 500,000 year old fossilized mussel shell engraved with an abstract zig zag by our Homo Erectus ancestors. A few thousands years to the future, and our species was using pigments from rocks and clay to immortalize our stories in caves.

 Visual art has been a crucial form of communication since the dawn of our species, consequently accompanying us throughout our evolutionary journey, evolving and advancing alongside us. As we venture into the digital age, it is no surprise that the art we create and consume has taken a technological turn — utilizing the same technologies that is pushing humanity into the future. 

The immersive virtual reality artwork of Russian-French artist Anna Zhilyaeva is a prime example of how far visual art has come. Zhilyaeva utilizes VR technology to push the painting medium past its limits. Her creations are much more than paintings after all…They are complete visual experiences, painted sculptures that immerse the viewer not only into the subject matter and message of the artwork, but also the process of getting there. 

Volumism: Defying Laws of Art and Physics

“I wanted to build a bridge between two realities. My idea was to create painting-sculptures. Now it seems evident, but it was challenging at the beginning to create the illusion of a classical painting, like a multitude of paintings from different angles brought together. I called it ‘Volumism’.”

Inspired by her extensive background in classical fine art and new exposures to virtual reality technology, Zhilyaeva sought to build a bridge between the two disciplines, essentially creating her own style in the process: “Volumism” is a new form of painting, pioneered by Zhilyaeva, which uses VR technology to utilize volume and space to create 3D sculpted paintings which go far beyond the physical limitations of classic 2D painting. Despite it’s technological origins, Zhilyaeva’s volumism is still heavily influenced by classical technique — 

“Four years ago, when I started to experiment with virtual reality, I noticed that a certain amount of strokes could give the aspect of oil painting. “

The painted sculptures created by Zhilyaeva intentionally blend characteristics of classical fine art techniques such as oil painting with the capabilities presented by VR. This technique allows Zhilyaeva to take her story telling to the next level, literally bringing viewers into the artwork. Unlike conventional visual art mediums, with VR volumism the creation process weighs as heavily as the finished product, if not even more so. 

“I try to involve the spectators in my work: I become a part of my painting; my painting becomes a part of the performance. I often bring together my passion for dance, painting and storytelling.”

Watching an artist like Zhilyaeva create colorful new worlds out of thin air is beyond fascinating. Her revolutionary artworks and performances have been praised and enjoyed by thousands around the world.

Exploring Art from All Angles

Zhilyaeva’s journey within the arts began early and has been extremely multi-faceted: At only 14 years old, she left her home to enroll in fine arts college in Orenburg, Russia. Five years later, she graduated as the youngest student in the school and quickly went on to continue her arts education in Moscow, where she focused on sculpture and painting restoration. From an early age, Zhilyaeva understood the importance of versatility within the arts, resulting in an exploration and experience in various including (but not limited to) film-making, architecture, illustration, game graphics, design and much more. 

I’ve never dreamt of becoming a Leonardo da Vinci, or any other famous artist. It was just enough to discover and be myself. To be able to focus on an objective and to go forward without fear. I invented my job, my life, my dream, and made it come true. There are ups and downs, but I carry on.

Zhilyaeva has always been passionate and interested in technology, and the possibility for its intersection with visual art. The development of virtual reality technology posed another opportunity for artist expansion for Zhilyaeva. Upon learning of a VR application that was developed specifically for painting, Zhilyaeva fully invested herself into exploring this new, essentially untouched, medium… and the rest was history. It did not take long for Zhilyaeva’s unique approach to painting to gain the attention of institutions around the world. Her painting performances have taken her across continents and seas, Germany, Turkey, India, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Dubai, Taiwan, Singapore. Her first live performance in virtual reality was for the VR Awards in London in 2017, where she used a Google tilt brush to paint her visual rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in sync with a live orchestra. 

I have an immense curiosity, a spirit of a pioneer that loves to discover. This makes me who I am.

Zhilyaeva has a lengthy list of performances and accomplishments, with some notables being a solo 3D live interpretation of “Liberty Leading the People” (Eugène Delacroix) at the famed Louvre Museum in Paris (2018) and the opening show for the Worldskills Competition in Russia (2019) where she gave a VR painting performance for an audience of over 45,000. Zhilyaeva has also worked with a number of illustrious global brands like Prada, HTC, Vive, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, on ground breaking VR art projects. A few months ago, she pushed her practice even further by debuting her first rare digital artwork which sold for 41 ETH (~$24,593 at the time).

Interview with Anna Zhilyaeva

How did volumism come to be?

In a TEDx conference, I adopted the term “Volumism” to describe my immersive sculptural paint creations, because this technology allows you to create any volume and breaks the laws of gravity.

What made you want to present your art in this way?

I used many different mediums: watercolors, oil, acrylic, marble, clay etc. I’m choosing the

mediums that allow me to best express my ideas.

I have always been interested in new technologies too. I was looking forward to virtual reality, and when I heard that a drawing app had been developed, I immediately invested in hardware.

I was also interested in mixed reality very early on, experimenting, beta-testing, and pushing developers to implement it.

After a few drawings, I noticed that some of the brushes had an oil painting effect.

My idea was to create the illusion of painting, as if many paintings were grouped together in a sculpture.

Also, I was looking to connect classical art with the new technologies and find the better way of communication between artist and spectators. I like the idea to be inside of a painting and to be able to invite other people to travel inside it. In mixed reality videos, you can involve your creative process, dancing, music. Virtual reality is an incredible medium and for now the best way to reflect my ideas.

As an artist, what excites you the most about NFTs?

NFTs for me are very logical continuation. With virtual reality, I’ve mostly worked as performer. It means that people can see my creative process displayed on screen while I’m painting live on stage. I was thinking of a way to sell my work. Something new, which could create the symbiosis between artwork, artist, and collectors.

My first sale happened about one year ago. It was a very successful start. I have the same feelings as when I started drawing in virtual reality: something new, surprising, exciting. I liked the idea of connecting with collectors around the world. NFTs are accessible to anybody, but it still depends on you to succeed in this field. It’s a special world, special art with special rules. You need to elaborate on them to play well.

This is the case in most of the art world: 1% talent, 89% hard work, 10% luck.

What are some of your biggest sources of creative inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere: travel, books, people, films, emotions, paintings, nature, science… I never especially wait for inspiration, it comes when I start working.

Energy is circulating. The more I do, the more I want to do, the more I can do. I love work, it’s a very important part of my pyramid hierarchy of needs.

What is the inspiration and story behind The Sparkling Moments Collection?

Every night, when I was a child, my mother would play me a recording of fairy tales.

Every night, I would travel to wonderful worlds taking shape in my mind.

Those magical moments still live in me.

I wanted to share my imaginary worlds with others, so I started drawing.

Later, it became my job, I made illustrations, animations… I liked to imagine that others would be able to dive into my fantasy.

We adults, like children, need an enchantment. I continue to compose for myself, because that’s what I really like to do in this life, and I invite you into my universe.

Maybe this is the right place and you will find what you are looking for.

What do you hope viewers take away from this collection and/or your artwork in general? 

Our world is full of energy: creative and destructive. Everyone decides what energy they want to nourish with and share with others. I have a lot of creative energy and I’m happy to share it through my work.

My life has been challenging and improving but, somehow, I believe in hedonism. I know you eventually receive back more of the same type of energy that you bring in this world.

THE DROP: Sparkling Moments


Editions: 3
Pricing: $9000

*First come, first buy: Final edition will NOT be auctioned

Le Baiser

Editions: 5
Pricing: 4,500

*First come, first buy: Final edition will NOT be auctioned


Editions: 10
Pricing: 2,000

*First come, first buy: Final edition will NOT be auctioned

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