The Artists Affirming Black Excellence In The Metaverse And NFT Space

Highlighting Black Artists, taking up space in the world of NFT.

Words by: Olisa Jr.

For such a long time, art has served as a surreal and peculiar visual language of self-expression, communication, commentary, or even common understanding, evidently becoming a ubiquitous language of its own, much like a gift from the heavens; and for Black people, it served as much more than just those things, it gave us an arguably incessant outlet of dictating our own ontological experiences and how they should exist in the world. From Jacob Lawrence’s first stroke of paint trailed across the canvas of Beer Hall (1947), or Gordon Park’s first negative from shooting American Gothic (1942), or maybe some years short of a century later when Arthur Jafa’s polarizing sequence of images in his film Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death (2016) was created, Black art has held its own level of authority and purpose that operates on a frequency of its own. 

Now, in our era of digitalization and technological enlightenment, the next big thing it seems would be the rise of NFTs and the metaverse. And while the concept of spending half a million dollars, on a picture of a monkey in a supreme, is certainly anything but understandable to a large majority of the world, there is still an immense sea of hopeful, inspiring creators and projects that offer society a reason to continuously pay close attention to the ever-growing space of digital art and NFTs. More specifically, a  number of Black artists—acknowledging the immensely wide variety of new NFT projects, spaces, designs, and movements that sprout every day—who have taken upon themselves the onus of using the space as an ecosystem of racial empowerment, community building, and most importantly, creating a world for the Black creative mind to flourish. Here, I highlight some of the artists we’ve been fortunate enough to come across this month. 

“Millennium” by Andre Oshea

ANDRE OSHEA (@andreoshea_)

Hailing from Georgia, Andre’s work manifests an unprecedented sense of surrealism which renders itself as an afro-futurist contemporary imagination, describing his work as an escape from reality and pathway into the future. Over the last year, garnering exposure through Netflix, Vogue, Adultswim, and Snapchat, the Black 3D artist has broken the glass ceiling people from the culture would be often caged in, as Andre became one of only three artists to contribute to creating the Grammy’s first NFT collection. Andre’s recent series, Axis, is a clear testament to the remarkable talent he is yet to fully exude. He has described his art as “inspired by aesthetic beauty, luxury, storytelling, the future and the feeling of limitless moments.”

Alla Prima/WET, Lana Denina

LANA DENINA (@lanadenina)

Lana’s work beautifully speaks to the ethos of unapologetic Black girl magic. There is an unrelenting essence of divinity within the tones, curves, and colours of her work, capturing “morphological diversity” while highlighting faces and stories rarely told as she puts it. Based in Montreal and of Beninese and French origin, the striking artist establishes her modern reimagination of earnestly capturing Black bodies, self-proclaiming her work as a spell-binding narrative of timeless modernity, romance and authenticity. Her most recent series, Alla Prima/WET, is undoubtedly nothing short of stunning. 

Bamileke Elephant Hovering Mask NFT | El Lobo III

EL LOBO III (@hueman.ntr)

Over a month ago, I was fortunate to have a short but delightful conversation with the Congolese artist, briefly speaking on the depth of his work and vision for the future. “I want to create worlds that are not too far out of reach, and I’m certain these designs will come into fruition,” the artist tells me, as we speak on the otherworldly architectural structures inspired by African heritage, and laden with glimpses of the future. There is also a strong exploration of cultural relics which point to a notion of reclamation within his work, as he blends past and present into the creation of his 3D sculptures, often reminiscent of traditional objects. 

Prelude 2022, 1/1 NFT Collection, Sold for 4 ETH, Serwah Attafuah

SERWAH ATTAFUAH (@serwah_attafuah)

Halfway across the world in Australia, creating as both an artist and musician, Serwah is daringly enchanting in both its visualization, but also the stories each piece of art aims to tell. There is something truly special in the heavenly glow her paintings express, much like a dream from another world. Serwah defines her work as “creating surreal cyber dreamscapes and heavenly wastelands, populated by afro-futuristic abstractions of self with strong ancestral and contemporary themes.”

Grace II, Courtesy of TIME Magazine

LETHABO HUMA (@lethabohuma)

South-African born artist Lethabo Huma intricately explores emotionally-charged paintings that delineate black womanhood, conjuring elegant nostalgia of serenity and playful sentiments. In a conversation with Time Magazine, in 2021, she states, “I create digital paintings and illustrations but still follow traditional painting and drawing techniques in order to achieve expressive brushwork textures. I always strive to improve how I translate my emotions and the stories I share through my selection of muses and brushwork.”

Felis Leo by Vakseen (12×12″, acrylic painting, 2015)

VAKSEEN (@Vakseen)

An enigmatic artist to the core, Vakseen’s work is a searingly powerful mix of alluring portraits, abstract thoughts, and distinct collages that point to a keen inspiration drawn from cubist and photorealist structures. Subverting any form of questioning his talent, the Florida-based artist hand paint each of his works onto a canvas, creating a fine amalgamation of popular culture, musical greatness while channelling his intimate sense of self-acceptance, duality, and true elegance. 

Check out the GUAP Arts & Culture section, to discover new art, film, and creative individuals.

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