Sharjah: The first NFT (non-fungible token) art exhibition in Sharjah opened at the House of Wisdom on Tuesday, featuring the works of 60 international and 15 local artists engaged in the digital and crypto art world.
‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ aims to bridge the gap between traditional and digital art worlds and introduce visitors and the art community to “the new wave of creativity that is transforming the art landscape worldwide”, organisers said.
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, that can be sold and traded without altering or changing it - just like a ‘real’ piece of art, photograph or currency changes hands.
The opening of the exhibition was attended by Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Ahmad Obaid Al Qaseer, Chief Operating Officer, Shurooq; Marwa Al Aqroubi, Director of the House of Wisdom and Xavier Tsang-Herbrich, Founder of Global Art Exhibition (GAE).
Hosted at Al Khawarizimi Exhibition space at House of Wisdom until April 15, the exhibition is organised in collaboration with GAE, a multidisciplinary global project connecting talents, and the MORROW Collective, the UAE’s leading NFT curatorial initiative.
Covering a multitude of themes, the physical iteration of the NFT art exhibition is held across 24 screens and shines a spotlight on how NFTs can be used in various genres – from portraiture and landscape to abstract and surreal, and from sculpture to virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Artists from across the MENA region, Europe, Asia, and the USA are being represented in the ‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ exhibition in two consecutive rotational rounds, each featuring over 30 international artists, and paired with a selection of 15 Emirati and UAE-based artists.
Making art accessible
Marwa Al Aqroubi, director of the House of Wisdom, said: “The innovative theme of this exhibition – non-fungible token and the metaverse – ties in with the mission of the House of Wisdom to provide a nurturing space for fostering cross-cultural dialogues and exchange of knowledge in varied disciplines. We aim to explore new ways to support contemporary art and artists with the technology of NFT and blockchain as we expand on the concept of decentralisation to make art accessible to all.”
Supportive art ecosystem
Stefano Favaretto, an Italian photographer and NFT artist, curator of the exhibition and co-founder of GAE, told Gulf News: “To us, Sharjah is a place of opportunities, a place that is deeply rooted with cultures and art, a place where many diverse voices are heard, and knowledge is exchanged. This collaboration exemplifies the very similar values that we share, of supporting and promoting art and artists in a modern and contemporary way.”
Stating that many of the artists are exhibiting for the first time in Sharjah, he added that he became a full-time artist following his passion for photography. His artistic research aims to investigate the relationships between real life materials and the spiritual world.
Meanwhile, Anna Seaman, co-founder of the MORROW collective, said: “The House of Wisdom is a centre of learning and knowledge transfer and is the perfect venue for an exhibition that introduces new audiences to NFTs.”
Redefining virtual art
From dynamic NFTs where a cloud emits a thunderbolt every time it detects a tweet with a specific hashtag in real time, to 360-degree creations of other worlds and environments and an animated photograph of sunlight where the dissolving light breaks out into the colours of the rainbow, the NFT artists exhibiting at ‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ are pushing the boundaries of what it means to create art in the new virtual universe.
New Age visuals, highly stylised 3D renderings, surrealist and abstract art forms, as well as a wide array of both static and animated artwork, pixel art, and images incorporating sound and music, are part of the digital expressions on view at the exhibition.
Physical paintings are paired with digital renderings where images that share a similar artistic vision, concept, style or idea are juxtaposed while a large part of the exhibition is composed of purely digital art.
An integral element of the exhibition are the series of seminars that aim to stimulate conversation on the advent of creative new technologies in the art world and introduce visitors to the emerging channels for artistic expressions and contemporary practices while exciting workshops aim to empower artists and visitors with practical guidance on transforming their talents into NFT works.