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Galeria Paloma bridges traditional art and NFTs

TO Touch Forever, acrylic on canvas by Carlos Rocha.

NON-FUNGIBLE tokens (NFTs), unique digital items traded on the blockchain and cryptocurrency market) have been on the Philippine scene for quite some time now, usually through in-game purchases. In the international art scene, they’ve been known as playthings of the very rich, with digital art being traded in the millions.

This week, NFTs in the form of digital artwork by Carlos Rocha (known as just “Carlos”) in collaboration with crypto-artist and motion designer Isaiah Cacnio are getting the posh treatment with an exhibit in Rockwell.

Titled “The Colors of Carlos,” the exhibit will feature paintings, sculpture, and crypto art NFTs at the North Court of the Power Plant Mall from July 8 to 12.

The exhibition is organized by Galeria Paloma, in partnership with The Frame by Samsung, a screen that blends with decor. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Mano Amiga, an organization that provides quality education for underprivileged children and sustainable livelihood opportunities to families from disadvantaged communities.

“The Colors of Carlos” launches a series of upcoming shows by Galeria Paloma that aims to bridge the gap between the familiar media of visual art and the emerging genre of crypto art.

In these exhibitions, traditional forms of art will be displayed side-by-side with crypto art shown on Samsung The Frame TV screens.

The works of Carlos, who previously exhibited NFTs at an online show this March, were animated by Mr. Cacnio, with close consultation with the artist.

“At first, I heard the story about the painting,” said Mr. Cacnio. “Most of his works already convey a motion, even though they’re just standing.”

Artworks presented on Samsung screens during the press conference showed swaying trees and docked boats moving to and fro.

Carlos, born in 1950, enjoys a career spanning 40 years. “For him, especially as an artist, age is but a number; he feels as though every artist continues to try to evolve and progress and push their own personal boundaries in art, bravely stepping out of their comfort zones to further their artist philosophy,” said Galeria Paloma in a statement.

NFTs are arguably a young person’s game, but Carlos’ daughter, Galeria Paloma co-director Kimi Delgado, explained how their father began dabbling in NFTs. “He sort of heard about it, right? We were talking to him about possibly producing NFTs this year for his works. When he saw the possibility of NFTs — the possibility of making the artworks a little bit more than just a still painting — he was like, ‘I’m for that.’”

Having his paintings come alive through animation became one of the highlights for creating the NFTs. “He really loved the idea of enveloping the viewer into his world. His philosophy is, he just wants to make people happy with his paintings,” said Ms. Delgado.

While most of the paintings that the NFT artworks were based on have already been sold, some new NFTs will appear on the exhibit alongside their physical counterparts. “Our whole point is just bridging the traditional artists and the collectors of traditional art with the crypto-art space,” she said.

The paintings will have starting bids of two Ether (the blockchain currency from Ethereum), estimated at about P65,000 per unit.

“We consider it as a work of art that is independent from the painting that it’s based on,” said Ms. Delgado. “Preserving the integrity of the original — that would have to depend on what you consider the original artwork.” — Joseph L. Garcia

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