Kaws partners with 'Fortnite' for first art exhibition within a video game

Acclaimed artist's latest exhibition, New Fiction, has physical as well as virtual and augmented reality versions

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

His paintings and sculptures have sold for millions of dollars while his fashion collaborations, featuring his famous characters or "companions", usually sell out in minutes, fetching thousands on the secondary market. Now, Brian Donnelly, more famously known as Kaws, is planning to conquer a new digital frontier.

As part of his latest exhibition at London's Serpentine Galleries, his first major solo exhibition in the city, the American artist and designer has partnered with Fortnite, the hit online video game which has more than 400 million users, as well augmented reality app Acute Art.

Titled New Fiction, all the paintings and sculptures on display at the Serpentine North Gallery will exist as augmented reality works on the app, through which people can view the works in the surroundings of their own home. On Fortnite, players will be able to explore the art gallery's grounds and interact with Kaws's artworks through their online avatar.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the London exhibition.

A visitor photographs an artwork by Kaws at the Serpentine Galleries in London. AFP

"This is an incredibly exciting project for me. I always like exploring new mediums for my art," Kaws told the UK's PA Media. "I became interested in working with AR when I realised the quality that can be achieved now. Then came the invitation to work with Fortnite.

"Now all these things come together in a complex exhibition that takes place in parallel realities."

The physical Serpentine exhibition features a number of Kaws Companions, characters he's become famous for with their signature Xs for eyes, as well as abstract paintings. Some plinths are left empty, but visitors can hover their Acute Art app over them to see AR renderings of more companions.

“Being able to create works, and the version that I’m viewing in Brooklyn is the version you could be viewing in India, I just started to get really obsessed with the opportunities within that," Kaws told The Guardian.

"There’s no comparison when standing in front of a painting or a piece of sculpture. So I was sceptical, thinking about digital versions. But when I started working with Acute, [I realised that] working with them is the same back and forth as when I work with the bronze foundry, or the factory that I make toys in. And the quality they achieve, it seems very real.”

He is, however, stopping short of creating NFTs, for now.

“I haven’t felt the piece or [had] the thought that made me think, ‘This is the right thing to make one for',” he said. "Even so, the unfakeable element of NFTs appeals: Thinking about my toys, and how many counterfeits are made in the world … Is this a possible way of navigating around that? I don’t know. I’m learning as much as I can."

His latest show is meant "to throw bridges to a new generation", he told The Guardian.

"It will be the first time gamers walk around a space like that, experiencing painting and sculpture in the video game that they’re completely comfortable in and used to."

New Fiction is at the Serpentine North Gallery, London until February 27

Updated: January 19, 2022, 8:44 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS