Technology is changing the way works of art are drawn, displayed and sold in different parts of the world.
More traditional art exhibits and displays are moving into the digital space where many artists can sell their works to art collectors on the non-fungible token (NFT) market.
Nigerian art curator Somi Nwandu and creator of Afrofutourism is part of the new era.
She uses Afrofutourism, an international exhibition of all-female digital artists to showcase the works of black female artists.
Nwandu explains that her goal is to put digital artists of African descent, especially women, on the world map.
“Afrofutourism is about celebrating and exploring reimagined African characteristics through art.” she told Africanews Lagos correspondent David Agunloye Taylor.
“The idea is for it to be a traveling exhibition across Africa and the world, this is the first edition in Lagos, Nigeria.” she pointed out.
It is Nwandu’s belief that art collectors should have first-hand experience of exhibiting digital art and that is the only way to create the change needed for them to embrace it.
“The idea is to bring these digital ideas to life, the digital space is still a lot of things in the digital, but having people see them in the physical space really helps to amplify and highlight the versatility and the dynamic effect of digital art.”
Over the decades, Nigeria has developed a large local traditional art market. But digital art remains largely untapped.
A young Nigerian artist, Derek Jombo, advises mainstream artists to find ways to explore the digital space and introduce their works to more art collectors.
“Digital art brings art together, whether you are a traditional artist or a digital artist, there is one principle that binds us all together. Regardless of what you practice, whether you are a traditional carver, you can put your knowledge to good use. It is also of great use digitally, digital art is something we should try.
Jombo, who featured some of his works at the Afrofutourism exhibition, explained that most of the works exhibit another level of surrealism. “What I do is surrealism. It’s surreal but in another dimension.
Another participant in the Afrofutourism exhibition in Lagos, Hannah Udeh, a literature student and art collector, says it was an experience that captured her imagination.
“When I had the chance to attend it was wonderful to see the vibrant colors, the fashion, the new fashion and the old fashion, then you have like African settings with space galaxy merged like all in she.”
Udeh added that “It was new to see the traditional meet a very new and very futuristic art.”
The collection of an American artist Mike Winkelman, who goes by the name of Beeple, remains the most expensive digital image of all time and the third highest price paid for the work of a living artist.
The blockchain-verified artwork fetched over $69 million at auction in March 2021.
According to Data, NFT sales reached $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021, registering a more than eight-fold increase from the previous quarter.
Although there is huge revenue potential through the sale of artwork in Nigeria, the country’s ban on banks and financial institutions from allowing cryptocurrency payments remains one of the greatest challenges facing digital artists.
But one thing the artists and curators of the All-Female International Exhibition, Lagos agree on is that now is the time for the West African nation to explore digital art to reflect life, and to reimagine and design a new African future.