Sharjah opens gateway to Metaverse with first NFT art exhibition

The exhibition features dramatic works of digital and traditional art from 60 international and 15 UAE-based artists



The artwork called 'Pardo' of the UAE based artist Liz Ramos displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, 'Gateway to the Metaverse' hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
The artwork called 'Pardo' of the UAE based artist Liz Ramos displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, "Gateway to the Metaverse" hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 2 Mar 2022, 7:27 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Jun 2022, 6:12 PM

Sharjah has entered the Metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection, with a first-of-its-kind non-fungible token (NFT) art exhibition.

Running until April 15 at Sharjah’s iconic House of Wisdom, the exhibition features dramatic works of digital and traditional art from 60 international and 15 UAE-based artists.

Here are some of the best moments from the exhibition’s opening day on March 1:

The artworks connect both digital and traditional art worlds and throw open the gateway to the Metaverse. Hosted at the dynamic, multifunctional Al Khawarizimi Exhibition space at the House of Wisdom, the ‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ is organised in collaboration with Global Art Exhibition (GAE), a multidisciplinary global project connecting talents, and the Morrow Collective, the UAE’s leading NFT curatorial initiative.

A visitor take photos of the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
A visitor take photos of the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

NFT itself is a unit of data that provides proof of ownership. However, NFT works for art are unique digital representations for a work of art that is transforming the art landscape worldwide, according to leading curators and artists who attended the event. NFTs became mainstream in the arts scene in early 2021 when artist Beeple sold his first NFT artwork at a Christie’s auction for $69.4 million.

Visitors take photos with the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
Visitors take photos with the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

At the House of Wisdom, the exhibition covers a multitude of themes. The physical iteration of the NFT art exhibition is held across 24 screens and shines a spotlight on how NFTs can be used in various genres – from portraiture and landscape to abstract and surreal, and from sculpture to virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

A visitor take photos of the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
A visitor take photos of the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

From dynamic NFTs where a cloud emits a thunderbolt every time it detects a tweet with a specific hashtag in real time to 360-degree creations of other worlds and environments and an animated photograph of sunlight where the dissolving light breaks out into the colours of the rainbow, the NFT artists exhibiting at ‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ are pushing the boundaries of what it means to create art in the new virtual universe.

Marwa Al Aqroubi, director of the House of Wisdom, said: “We aim to explore new ways to support contemporary art and artists with the technology of NFT and blockchain as we expand on the concept of decentralisation to make art accessible to all.”

The artwork called 'Collective' of the UAE based artist Mary Noga displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, 'Gateway to the Metaverse' hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
The artwork called 'Collective' of the UAE based artist Mary Noga displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, "Gateway to the Metaverse" hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

Al Aqroubi said: “This exhibition will empower our community of creative makers to build on their next-generation ideas in the emerging art ecosystem.”

Amira Bin Faris, the programs manager at House of Wisdom, said, “By bringing together a diverse group of international and local artists across blockchains to showcase an inclusive collection of digital art, crypto art, and traditional art, our aim is to bridge the gap between the metaverse and the real world and open a gateway on the ground to virtual exhibitions while also introducing traditional artists, collectors, and visitors to the metaverse.”

Visitors at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
Visitors at Sharjah’s first NFT art exhibition, “Gateway to the Metaverse’’ hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

Meanwhile, Italian Stefano Favaretto, NFT artist, curator of the exhibition and co-founder of Global Art Exhibition (GAE), said, “To us, Sharjah is a place of opportunities, a place that is deeply rooted with cultures and art, a place where many diverse voices are heard, and knowledge is exchanged. This collaboration exemplifies the very similar values that we share, of supporting and promoting art and artists in a modern and contemporary way.”

He added, “’ Bridges’ is the keyword that represents this exhibition. We are building several bridges - between different nations, between traditional art and digital art, and creating a union between the past, the present and the future, and the House of Wisdom is where all these bridges meet.”

A visitor is looking at the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, 'Gateway to the Metaverse' hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
A visitor is looking at the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, "Gateway to the Metaverse" hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

Anna Seaman, co-founder of the MORROW collective said, “The House of Wisdom is a centre of learning and knowledge transfer and is the perfect venue for an exhibition that introduces new audiences to NFTs.” She said many of the artists were exhibiting in Sharjah for the first time.

Dr Nina Heydemann, director of Maraya Art Center, explained that ‘Gateway to the Metaverse’ reflects a worldwide response to the prospects that NFT offers to artists. She said: “Digital art offers new possibilities for the traditional art forms in ways yet unknown. This deeply intertwined relationship is now starting to set off an interesting artistic dialogue.”

Visitors are looking at the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, 'Gateway to the Metaverse' hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
Visitors are looking at the digital artwork displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, "Gateway to the Metaverse" hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

New age visuals, highly stylised 3D renderings, surrealist and abstract art forms, as well as a wide array of both static and animated artwork, pixel art, and images incorporating sound and music, are part of the digital expressions on view at the exhibition.

Physical paintings are paired with digital renderings where images that share a similar artistic vision, concept, style or idea are juxtaposed while a large part of the exhibition is composed of purely digital art.

The artwork called 'Pardo' of the UAE based artist Liz Ramos displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, 'Gateway to the Metaverse' hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad
The artwork called 'Pardo' of the UAE based artist Liz Ramos displayed at Sharjah's first NFT art exhibition, "Gateway to the Metaverse" hosted by House of Wisdom - Photo by M. Sajjad

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Organisers said an integral element of the exhibition is the series of seminars that aim to stimulate conversation on the advent of creative new technologies in the art world. Several ongoing workshops during the exhibition aim to empower artists and visitors with practical guidance on transforming their talents into NFT works.

The opening day commenced with a B2B focused seminar titled, ‘In Dialogue with Local Artists’, and discussing trending topics and concerns for both NFT and traditional artists, including the physical art in the Metaverse, pixel art as NFTs, fashion in the Metaverse, NFT utilities, NFT exhibitions in real life, and NFT communities.


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