Jonathan Yeo

a glimpse of the future


A glimpse of the future: Jonathan Yeo at the Royal Academy


"From Life"


The Royal Academy of Arts

11 December 2017 - 11 March 2018


We are pleased to announce Jonathan's involvement in a major new exhibition opening now at the Royal Academy in London to mark their 250th anniversary. This timely survey investigates one of the oldest artistic practices, that of working from life, and speculates how this practice is evolving as technology opens up new ways of creating and visualising artwork. Taking over both the Sackler Wing and Tennant Galleries, the show also features work by Antony Gormley, Jenny Saville, Lucian Freud, Jeremy Deller, Yinka Shonibare, Gillian Wearing, Farshid Moussavi and Cai Guo-Qiang.

"From Life will examine what making art from life has meant to artists throughout history and how the practice is evolving as technology opens up new ways of creating and visualising artwork" 

Royal Academy of Arts, London


For the last 18 months Jonathan has been experimenting with various innovative technologies related to image making, including virtual reality and advanced 3D scanning.  This show will see the unveiling of two ground breaking new bodies of work, which combine sculpture and painted portraits with some of the latest scientific innovations to significantly push the boundaries of traditional artistic media.


3D Scanning


Jonathan has been working closely with the leading optical company OTOY, who specialise in creating special effects for George Lucas and other Hollywood Sci-fi productions and have built the world's most advanced "light stage" scanner in Los Angeles. 

Access to their scanning and rendering facilities has enabled Jonathan to create self portraits in a way that has never been possible for artists before. Instead of looking in a mirror or working from photos, he is paving the way for other artists who will in future be able to see themselves in 3 dimensions in the same way we look at other people. 

By exploring this area for the first time it should help draw wider attention to a scientific tool which is likely to become a widespread part of everyone's lives over the coming years.


Jonathan Yeo using Tilt Brush VR software


Through a partnership with Google Arts and Culture, Jonathan has been collaborating with Google’s engineers on their Tilt Brush software, which lets users paint in a 3D space using virtual reality technology.

He has also been working with Pangolin Editions, one of the world's leading foundries, to adapt the software and enable the creation of large-scale sculpture in metal in a way that has never been done before.

Described as a new genre which bridges painting and sculpture, the pieces have been crafted within a virtual "life room", using the HTC Vive headsets with the Tilt Brush tools and OTOY scans.  By making solid structures based precisely on the kind of gestural marks which painters would normally use on canvas, this platform opens the door to an entirely new process, both for artists already working in three dimensions and those (like Jonathan) with little or no previous experience. 

This exhibition, which will celebrate both the Royal Academy's history as an art teaching establishment and its continuing role as one of the world's most important exhibition forums, provides an ideal context for these new works. Alongside works by some of the greatest practitioners of the past and present day, it should demonstrate how artists can both harness and enhance the latest digital processes to open up a world of creative possibilities. It should also underline how genres such as portraiture can be used to anticipate and explain some of the new technologies, which are going to infiltrate our lives ever more over the coming years. 


“This is an experimental project that explores everything from artistic process to technological evolution and creative collaboration. In a sense, From Life embodies what an artist-run academy was, is and might become.”

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director of the Royal Academy of Arts


For further information