NFT art spaces challenge galleries

Art & Culture

Give amateur artists a layer of security

While NFT art spaces and small galleries aim to democratize art for beginners and amateurs, established galleries are finding it hard to cope, especially since the pandemic began, say gallery representatives.

NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) are digital art pieces where each art piece created is unique and traceable. This has enabled a lot of small artists to find new buyers for their art without patronage from big galleries.

But art galleries often give space to local artists to showcase their work.     For example, the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat. 

Vinayak Sunder,administrative officer at Chitrakala Parishad, said while gallery bookings for exhibitions have come up to pre-Covid levels, beginners are much less in number.

Talking to The Observer, he said: “Our art complex is open to all kinds of people…from students looking for inspiration to established artists who want to showcase their artworks. But the number in which newcomers or amateurs come here are very less. Students of fine arts are more (in number), but those who have learnt on their own don’t find much support.”

Harsh Dsouza, owner of Kadri Rocks Art Gallery, Mangaluru, feels people should prefer galleries as keeping art in public memory is important. “Due to digitalization, people can see and buy art online. However, coming to an art gallery is always educative as well as therapeutic. People feel relaxed in the atmosphere of art. Instead of spending on a weekend party, if a family decides to buy a piece of art, then the art community will be encouraged.”

But NFT artists have a different take on this.

Samyadeep Purkayastha, an NFT artist, said: “I don’t know about traditional artists, but digital artists were not even considered as artists. I have seen some pretty popular artists share their older DMs to different galleries where they were mocked when they approached them to showcase their work. But with NFTs, especially with @beeple_crap’s (Mike Winkelmann) breaking news regarding his 5,000 Days NFT sale, finally the world started to accept digital artists as artists and all digital artists be it 2D or 3D actually got some respect in the space.”

Ketan Chandekar, another NFT artist, said the scope of earning with      commission and better exposure is what attracts people to the field. “In a traditional art space, the artists will know the first buyer but won’t have any idea on who buys it from them. But as an NFT, we can trace every time the same piece is bought and even earn a commission. And since it is stored digitally and can be traced, it is difficult to pirate it…even if someone does produce a fake copy, their blockchain ID is still displayed and can identify that it isn’t theirs,” he said.

While there is an apparent divide between the mediums, veterans of the field believe there are pros and cons to both mediums.

Royalkris Thangjam, guest faculty in graphic art at the Bangalore School of Visual Arts, said: “It is all based on one’s reputation. The speed of one’s name goes faster online than it does anywhere else. But in a gallery, especially smaller ones, if I talk like a gallery person, I have to invite the press and other people to make it recognized first. So it is a more tedious process.”

But Thangjam believes that a combination of the two can be made to move forward. “Only picture art can be based online, while there are other performance-based art forms as well. So while NFTs can take a part of the art scene, there is still a lot of scope for artists.”


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