Are NFTs turning a new leaf for the artistic community?

Visual artist Heidi Taillefer experiments with NFTs and oil painting with a new series of works “Frogs”

Heidi Taillefer explores cryptocurrency in her latest oil paintings and their NFT counterparts. Photo Stella Mazurek

On Wednesday, September 29, Galerie Jano Lapin et Studios welcomed visual artist Heidi Taillefer and her new exhibition Frogs. It was an overnight event showcasing the work of the artist, who fused the art of oil painting with that of digitizing works of art.

The series of eight oil-painted biomechanical frogs arose out of Taillefer’s curiosity about non-fungible tokens, more commonly known as NFTs. The digital paintings of frogs, which are the NFT counterpart of the original paintings, are available in Polaroid format with accompanying quotes.

NFTs are an emerging form of cryptocurrency that can be traded. Non-fungible tokens can take a variety of forms, Bitcoin, digital clothing, and even digitized oil paintings of frogs.

Anne Jano, founder and director of Galerie Jano Lapin, explained how the idea of ​​working with NFTs had haunted her for some time. For this project, Jano mentioned being in collaboration with NFT Studio gems, a blockchain that uses wax for their NFTs.

“I was in contact with [them] for other things, and [Taillefer] I was in contact with them for this, and when we found out that we were both doing this, I said “let’s do it together”. It was organic, […] it was the perfect opportunity to bring him together, ”said Jano.

Taillefer mentioned how the series was created as a reaction and commentary to the emerging popularity of NFTs and the bad reputation that precedes them due to their harmful effects on the environment.

“I continued to read on [NFTs] and I saw statistics showing how bad it could be for the environment. But it’s not that doing and hitting an NFT is bad, it’s technology using proof of work, ”the artist explained. “It’s the same type of problem of using energy to create a currency of a certain type or to strike […] something on the blockchain.

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Visual artist Heidi Taillefer and gallery owner Anne Jano in their latest exhibition ‘Frogs.’ Photo Stella Mazurek

Where regular NFTs and Taillefer Frogs differ in the way they are produced.

Taillefer explained how she discovered “another technology called proof-of-stake technology, which […] uses a minimal and tiny fraction of energy to produce an NFT.

As the visual artist broached the subject of everyone rushing to create this new technology – without really caring about its environmental impact, and more specifically its carbon footprint – it makes sense that the project found its final form in the form amphibians.

“Frogs are biomarkers in nature and they are the first creature – the first animal – to show signs of environmental stress,” the artist said. “What I was doing was anticipating what our future holds if we continue to ignore good management of the natural world around us.”

“I was just like, I’m going to make surrogate frogs which are a cynical commentary on the extinction of animal species, because of the impact of human activity on the environment. Thus, these substitutes would replace the natural frog[s] living in the wild, ”Taillefer said.

She explained that the environment is essential to our survival. Taillefer said, “We keep evolving and technology keeps evolving, but nature, you know, doesn’t evolve to accommodate us, it rather reacts with us. “

The visual artist is no stranger to exploring human nature through the use of robotics as an artistic focal point. She explained how she could paint a robot and how such a creation could grapple with the inevitable human condition of greed, whatever the consequences.

“We keep evolving and technology keeps evolving, but nature, you know, doesn’t evolve to accommodate us, instead it reacts to us. ”
– Heidi Taillefer

“I started painting robots and my style started with an original robotic frog, [it] was totally mechanical. […] So what I’m doing now is sort of fusing a biomechanical effect. So I have an organic part and a mechanical part in there, and from there it kind of evolved into more symbolism, ”the artist explained.

Taillefer’s work comes in two different formats, the oil paintings – which sell for $ 600 each – and their NFT counterparts which are more accessible to the general public.

The artist shared that some customers have purchased both versions of the frogs.

“I like when they have both. I know people who bought the NFTs as well as the original frogs and they are planning to show the NFT alongside the original. I love it, ”Taillefer said. “It’s perfect because it’s the complete package.

Asked about the metaphysics of property, whether for the physical or digital version, Taillefer expressed whatever their format, both versions are originals. They each carry their own artistic signature.

Taillefer is still exploring the vast world of the Metaverse and its existence online. “It’s interesting as a phenomenon. I don’t know if it’s healthy, it could just be an escape reality for people – that’s what I think it is – or it’s just a way for someone to channel their resources , she said. “They want to build something for themselves and give themselves a purpose. “

As NFTs continue to gain in popularity, this raises the question of their evolution in an artistic environment and what this could mean for artists, gallery owners and art collectors.

“I am intrigued by the possibility of selling NFTs for my gallery. It’s something that I question, as a lot of other people in the industry do too, ”said Jano. “What NFTs represent versus what they’re sort of currently under review isn’t necessarily the same. I think our society is going to evolve with blockchains, so we can’t really ignore that.

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