Opportunities to Invest in NFTs Await in Art Fair Philippines 2023—Here’s How to Spot The One

With non-fungible tokens (NFTs) making their appearance at Art Fair Philippines 2023, we ask Kimi Rocha of Galeria Paloma about how you can start investing in NFTs.

The art world is constantly evolving and changing as the years go by, and in recent developments, technology has been integrated into modern-day art pieces. The result? Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As a recent addition to the art world, NFTs are digital assets—photos, videos, audio files, or another digital format, and in this case, artworks.

As “cryptographic assets which sit on a blockchain—that is, a distributed public ledger that records transactions,” each NFT contains a unique identification code or a digital signature that distinguishes them from each other. This data makes it easy to prove ownership and likewise transfer tokens between owners.

Although the school of thought is divided—with some who think that NFTs are a “bubble waiting to pop,” while others welcome the innovation with open arms—the NFT industry in the Philippines is expected to grow steadily. In fact, the “Philippines NFT Market Intelligence and Future Growth Dynamics Databook – 50+ KPIs on NFT Investments by Key Assets, Currency, Sales Channels – Q2 2022” records a forecast period with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.6% from 2022 to 2028.

Plus, the NFT Spend Value in the country is forecasted to increase from US$2598.3 million (around PHP 1.44 billion) in 2022 to reach US$12796.4 million (around PHP710.5 billion by 2028)!

With that being said, many artists and galleries have begun showcasing NFTs in their lineup, including multi-genre gallery Galeria Paloma, which will be joining the Art Fair Philippines this 2023. And for those who want to start collecting their own set of NFTs, we ask Art Director Kimi Rocha-Delgado of Galeria Paloma to tell us more.

Carlos Rocha, one of the oldest NFT artists in the Philippines, will be showcasing his work at Art Fair Philippines 2023. “The plan is to continue creating NFTs—collaborating [and] continuing to build this world into a coherent space on the metaverse. It is exciting to see how our team will build it, and especially how other artists might do their own takes on it,” Carlos expresses.

Galeria Paloma Joins Art Fair Philippines 2023

After a years-long hiatus from the pandemic, this year’s Art Fair Philippines is back and bigger than ever. Set to take place from February 17 to 19, 2023 at The Link, the exhibition will feature a coming-together of prestigious artists, galleries, art collectors, enthusiasts, and more.

In fact, this year marks Galeria Paloma’s first year at the art fair. With its lineup of the most illustrious digital and new media artists, the exhibition—entitled Parallel—takes inspiration from “the parallelism of emerging realities in web3 and the digital art sphere.”

How so? “It seeks to tackle the metaverse mirroring the physical universe, augmented realities that layer naked-eye reality, the emergence of phygital [physical and digital] art where creativity treads on two or more concurrent mediums, and the dual creative ‘minds’ of man and machine,” Galeria Paloma explains in a statement.

What’s more, this exhibit will be simultaneously displayed at another physical site: NINFA Labs in Milan, Italy—an offshoot of the brand’s Parallel theme. This will help in furthering Galeria Paloma’s aim to be an international platform for its artists and likewise, serve as “an example of technological advances allowing for an original work of art to be exhibited in two (or more) locations.”

“During the onboarding phase of the galleries, Galeria Paloma came to our attention as a solid project that immediately gave us confidence in wanting to establish a collaborative relationship with them,” says Carlo Borloni, the head of sales for NINFA. “We believe regardless of how digitalized the world has become, there’s still a significant need for human interaction.”

“It’s crucial to be able to offer a space for traditional collectors who are curious to learn about this new digital world. It is these new digital technologies which allow us to experience simultaneous exhibitions, as is now the case, even if from different parts of the world,” he adds.

“We are delighted to offer “Parallel” on NINFA’s gallery and online platform,” says Kimi Delgado, Galeria Paloma director. “This is in line with our goals to align with the best platforms internationally in order to afford more exposure to the artists we represent, as well as to embrace technological advances allowing for an original work of art to be exhibited in two (or more) locations.”

For ‘Parallel,’ Aswang will be exhibiting one of his 1/1 pieces, ‘Nine Mananaggals,’ which continues to reflect their desire to use NFTs as a medium for sharing ancient Filipino, archetypal, pre-colonial stories. 

Parallelisms in Physical Art and NFTs

Back then, traditional art in the form of framed works, paintings, and sculptures would grace the walls and homes of art collectors. But for a modern-day art enthusiast, art can now easily be accessed through his or her smartphone in the form of NFTs.

“The emergence of the metaverse has made axiomatic parallels to the physical world,” says Delgado. “Art has become one of its layers, and we are proud to present a roster of the best artists who have embraced this multi-layered medium in all its complexity.”

In order to showcase the parallelism of both traditional and digital art, Parallel by Galeria Paloma gives an in-depth look at the emergence of the metaverse and blockchain technology, or simply, art that exists in both the virtual world and the physical world; art that layers augmented reality and physical realities in one work; the merge of physical and digital art, where artists employ two or more mediums (in both the digital and physical) simultaneously; and the employment of artificial intelligence where the artist uses various applications to create a work of art.

This will best be represented by their roster of prestigious artists, who were selected for their contributions to the digital and new media landscapes both here and abroad. These include:

  • Skye Nicolas: a post-conceptual artist whose works range from large format paintings, filmmaking, photography, public space interventions, sculpture, and digital artworks. His very first Walkman readymade—paired with an NFT—will be showcased for the first time at Art Fair Philippines 2023.
  • Luis Buenaventura: foremost known as the record holder for the highest-selling digitally native NFT made by a Filipino artist. He is also one of the artists of Curio Cards—the first work of art ever minted on the Ethereum blockchain, which sold at Christie’s for $1.2 million (around PHP 66.63 million) in the auction house’s first lot ever offered in cryptocurrency.
  • Bjorn Calleja: a multi-awarded painter and interdisciplinary artist who has received accolades locally and abroad. His recent NFT projects were exhibited in Art Basel Hong Kong and SEA Focus in Singapore. The NFTs of his largely recognizable, humanoid character sculptures are rendered in GLB files or GL Transmission Format Binary Files—standard file formats for 3D models—which allow for 3D viewing.
  • Jopet Arias: the Founder of CryptoArtPh and one of the forerunners of Philippine crypto art. He shepherds a community of artists with his knowledge and experience of the emerging space as a painter and multi-disciplinary visual artist.
  • The Alarcon Brothers: Ejem, Aldrine, and Didier Alarcon comprise of three of the four Alarcon Brothers. They have collaborated on artworks and most recently, digital artworks that have given them recognition in the crypto art scene.
  • Carlos: One of the oldest Filipino artists who got into NFTs. His works include a combination of paintings, NFTs, and sculptures, which tackle an augmented reality layer featuring a time-lapse—an evolution of the paintings’ skies from night to day with no change to their main subjects—making light of parallel time.
  • Wyn-Lyn Tan: a Singaporean painter and artist whose work has been exhibited widely in New York, Norway, and Art Basel Hong Kong. Her generative work is the result of using specially programmed artificial intelligence programs to train a curated set of thousands of images of her work.
  • Raymond Lauchengco: a multi-hyphenated man who adds functional art creator and digital artist to his already impressive resume as an award-winning theater and film artist, photographer, and director. His works for the exhibit include salvaged and found wood pieces that have been turned into works of functional art—layered with digital artworks based on each work’s thematic narrative.
  • AJ Dimarucot: an artist, art designer, illustrator, and graphic designer who has created campaigns for international brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Marvel, Star Wars, Adidas, and more. Despite the controversy surrounding AI works, he has embraced the technology by confidently and skillfully creating artworks with a firm grip on his own natural talent as an artist.​
  • Aswang: the anonymous illustrator and mastermind behind the Aswang Collection and Aswang Tribe—works have garnered over 600 Ethereum (over PHP 50 million) in trading volume. Their mission is focused on the cultural preservation of Filipino heritage with the use of blockchain technology.
  • Sevi Agregado: the first Filipino child NFT artist who has already minted his first works while still in first grade. Digital versions of his paintings have been exhibited in Times Square (for NFT.NYC), Art Basel Miami, various galleries in the United States and Singapore, as well as publications like Vogue Singapore and The Straits times.  
  • Isaiah Cacnio: an engineering graduate who brings together art with his mathematical inclinations. His work is an offshoot of his genesis collection, Fractals—abstracted, colorized, and animated depictions of never-ending mathematical patterns, scales, and spherical coordinates.
  • Sheila Ledesma: a visual artist who focuses largely on surrealist collages using unusual media like old makeup. Surrealist and Dadaist techniques contribute to the composition of her artworks and her works for the exhibit showcase her milestones in the form of NFTs.

Collectors of each artwork will own the physical and digital forms or versions of the pieces.

Luis Buenaventura’s digitally native works for ‘Parallel’ showcase the inability of AI (artificial intelligence) to draw or create hands compared to ‘human’ artists. lt also sparks the conversation about whether AI could replace humans as artists.

The Basics of Investing in NFTs

With NFTs being a foreign concept for traditional art collectors, and even more so for first-time art collectors and artists, Kimi Rocha-Delgado reveals to The Business Manual how Galeria Paloma will not just offer a curated selection of NFTs, but also educate and spread awareness about these modern-day art pieces.

“Being one of the first galleries to present physical exhibitions for crypto art and having presented the art in a way that is aesthetically and artistically appropriate for collectors to live with is something we are proud of,” Delgado explains. “We are trying to do away with barriers to entry into the collection of crypto art by presenting display solutions that make sense for the collector who would like to display them.”

As for her thoughts on first-time art collectors and aspiring artists who want to create their own NFTs, Delgato has only this to say: “My advice is to keep it simple by thinking about crypto art as what it is: just another genre or medium of art—with an added bonus of its registry on the blockchain that will prove it is yours,” she says.

“So, if a potential collector would like to start collecting, we always advise [looking] around for pieces that you love. They’ll move you in the same way traditional-form art does,” she goes on to add. “It will always be a good investment—financially or emotionally, or even mentally.”

Going back to the very foundation of art, the art director ends by saying: “There’s always an opportunity to earn financially from art investment, but we can’t emphasize enough the emotional investment of collecting art you love, art that moves you. We firmly believe that art has [the] power to shift perspectives or offer vicarious experiences that can foster change for the better.”