First NFT by a contemporary African artist to be sold by Christie's in Europe

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First NFT by a contemporary African artist to be sold by Christie's in Europe
Pool Day 1, 2021.

LONDON.- 1-54 in collaboration with Christie’s presents an auction of Nigerian crypto-artist Osinachi's NFT series Different Shades of Water. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs will be on view at 1-54 London 2021, curated by Daria Borisova. The online NFT auction will mark the first NFT by a contemporary African artist offered by Christie’s in Europe and is the first NFT collaboration for 1-54. The digital artworks associated with the NFTs in Different Shades of Water will be exhibited at Somerset House during the fair, with the online-only auction for the NFTs, First Open: Post-War and Contemporary Art Online, taking place from 5 to 19 October. Christie’s partnership with 1-54 demonstrates the auction house's commitment to showcasing contemporary African art to their global client base. This is in addition to the 1-54 Online Powered by Christie’s platform that enhances exposure internationally.

Considered Africa’s foremost crypto artist, Osinachi (born Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, 1991), is a Nigerian visual artist whose work explores personal experiences within a technological environment. Aesthetically and procedurally, Osinachi’s work explores visible existence as protest by depicting and reimagining how individuals and collectives engage in advocacy for freedom of identity by thwarting societal expectations. This could be through the things they wear, the paraphernalia they adorn themselves with, or simply by being and existing in a form that society frowns upon. He was a finalist for the Bridgeman Studio Award 2019.

The five NFTs from Osinachi’s ongoing series Different Shades of Water, are inspired by David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972). In this series, Osinachi imagines what the pool would look like with different shades of water, playing with the position of the subject’s body, and exploring how daylight can change our perception of water in a pool. He builds on his signature style to emphasise the relationship between person and water in a world where people have adapted to recreating nature and the natural body. Each piece is a commentary on the endless prioritisation of work and achievements over the wellbeing of the human body. From a technical point of view, the series is a triumph for Osinachi in his quest to digitally create a believable water body across multiple digital paintings. He exclusively uses Microsoft Office to produce his work, pushing the programme’s limited design capabilities. Osinachi believes each piece he creates is a challenge that empowers him to become an even better artist.

For the first time, Christie’s will have a presence at an art fair with a booth showcasing Osinachi’s NFTs. In addition, Osinachi will offer a cryptocurrency “OSINA” to reward visitors to the fair and encourage collectors to build a community, exploring and interacting with the world of crypto by scanning a QR code to receive the OSINA via an app. A portion of the proceeds from Christie's will be donated to the African Culture fund, a pan-African organisation supporting the arts education sectors and cultural and creative industries on the African continent. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Culture Fund has continued to support the resilience of African artists and cultural actors who the crisis has negatively impacted.

The digital, the virtual, the augmented, the real, the imagined; A.F.K versus I.R.L—the lexicon around our digital world both perplexes and invigorates ‘our’ collective consciousness. In the western world, debates of African digitality often summon references to ‘digital divides’ and social inequity. The reality, in many instances, contrarily exhibits a much more complex picture. Internet diffusion across the continent has proliferated at warp speed across the last decade, enabling an entirely new generation of artists and makers to explore the possibilities of digitality in motion. Here, artists have produced a multitude of virtual forms and artefacts; NFTs, memes, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Within these interstitial spaces, creative practitioners have found tools that have enabled new forms of expression—an agency that enables independently-driven storytelling techniques that embody queer, feminist alter-narratives to breathe in open space. PRINCESS ALIA AL-SENUSSI, PhD (Cultural strategist, writer, patron, public speaker and academic) leads a discussion with OSINACHI (Artist), SUMAYYA VALLY (Principal Architect, Counterspace), GEMMA ROLLS-BENTLEY (Chief Curator, Avant Arte) and SPECIAL GUEST.

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