NFT: The new brush stroke in the Indian art world

Along with celebrities, digital creators and artists in India are also hopping on to the NFT bandwagon. Here’s decoding the buzzword in the art scene and exploring why is it picking up.
The NFT artowrk titled Ecotherapy, by Khyati Trehan, is one of the several pieces that were recently exhibited in Delhi as part of a recent exhibition.
The NFT artowrk titled Ecotherapy, by Khyati Trehan, is one of the several pieces that were recently exhibited in Delhi as part of a recent exhibition.
Published on Oct 16, 2021 01:55 PM IST
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BySiddhi Jain, New Delhi

How about owning a piece of art but not having it on your wall? Well, for those of you who have heard about digital assets in vogue that are called Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT), would know how unique it is and how its value appreciates with time. And for those who are new to this term, get accustomed fast because it’s not a foreign concept anymore. Since July, Delhi has witnessed at least two art exhibitions displaying works with registered NFTs, that could be bought on the Blockchain.

Even personalities from the world of entertainment are going big on NFTs now. In a first for any Indian actor, after Vishal Malhotra sold a (NFT) for 5500 USD this year, many Indian celebs including actors Amitabh Bachchan and Sunny Leone, have warmed up to the concept of NFT drops. Actor Salman Khan has also announced an NFT collection. However, it’s not just celebrities who are cashing in on this new way of buying and selling art and collectibles. Even young, digital art creators are dipping their hands in this virtual gold!

An NFT art by Yashika Kalra.
An NFT art by Yashika Kalra.

Firstly, what are NFTs? “People can have a picture of Da Vinci’s Monalisa in their phones, or they can go to the Louvre Museum (France) and click a picture of it, but the original Monalisa is priceless and the rest of the pictures of the same art are worthless just because the original was attested by the museum. NFTs are analogous to the attestation; a digital certificate from the artist saying that this is a work created by me along with the artwork,” explains artist Laya Mathikshara, who recently exhibited works in a Delhi-based Terrain.art group show and calls herself an “example of this examplary movement”, adding that her most recent “Amerkle series has sold for 400,000 USD (3 crore INR) and is increasing by the day”.

Artist Laya Mathikshara puts it in simple words and explains, “From random doodling in the back of science textbook to considering about scaling up, NFTs are revolutionising how artists are seen.” And artist Srishti Rana Menon adds that NFTs are “simply a unique, tamper-proof identification system which is digital”. She goes on to elaborate: “Each of my artwork is assigned an NFT rendering it tamper proof, making it available to acquire on Blockchain, powered networks like Ethereum. Once my painting has a digital ownership through an NFT, it secures its provenance or long term ownership record that might pass through many owners. The NFT will forever establish its authenticity unlike physical documents that could be lost or degraded over time.”

Artist and illustrator Amrit Pal Singh feels the NFT space is “heavily dominated by digital artists and creators because of the medium being a screen, and a majority of art these days is created digitally”. Singh, who says NFTs are “the biggest thing that has happened to digital artists since the invention of Photoshop”, has sold a pair of “Toy Faces that were a tribute to the split of the band Daft Punk” for 15 ETH (around 40 lakh). Another NFT creator, Entangled Others Studio says that collectors are being able to collect their works with ease and that “makes the experience of making a living as an artist more rewarding”. According to the studio, it doesn’t matter which pieces have done the best because the personal value for artists is what matters the most to them.

Daft Punk Toy Face II artwork by Amrit Pal Singh.
Daft Punk Toy Face II artwork by Amrit Pal Singh.

Mentioning how NFTs are also beneficial to artists who are starting out, artist Yashika Kalra says, “With NFTs, artists no longer need to pay the expensive commissions to galleries to showcase their artworks! Our artworks can be minted as NFTs, and shall be preserved over the Blockchain forever. And artists have a chance to earn royalties for their artworks through secondary market as well unlike the traditional mediums.”

But speaking on the environmental impact of minting NFTs on energy-hungry servers, which consume tonnes of energy per minute, the creators say that with time all technologies are updated and made energy-efficient. Artist Amrit Pal Singh explains: “The Blockchain technology enables us to generate (or mint) a unique digital token. It can’t be replicated, thus making it non fungible. This token can be transferred from person to person like a physical object. Unlike regular digital files, the token cannot be copied or owned by multiple people. You can associate this token with a regular digital file (image, video, mp3, or anything), and that token when combined with the file makes it unique.”

Author tweets @siddhijainn

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Thursday, May 26, 2022