F rom his early work spray painting Andy Warhol-inspired stencils on the streets of LA, ThankYouX has been pushing artistic boundaries. His work progressed into modern abstract pieces, often on a large scale. Having exhibited all over the world, he has achieved international acclaim, most recently for leading the way in the ever-evolving NFT space, a medium he began to explore in 2020.
Bridging the gap between the traditional art and crypto worlds, ThankYouX has curated works by some of the most exciting artists in NFTs, including JN Silva, Fvckrender and Claire Silver, and his selection forms part of Sotheby's upcoming Modern and Contemporary Day sale. Here, he talks us through why he chose these artists and what NFTs mean for the art world.
How have NFTs changed your practice as a visual artist?
I now think about how I will bring the pieces I create from the physical world into the digital realm and why. Not every painting of mine should be an NFT. Some seem more fitting than others. Ultimately I want to tell a compelling story in an abstract way. I often embed digital screens with the NFT into my actual paintings, which is a way that you can both have a physical and digital art piece in one.
You’ve been invited to curate a Digital/Physical section at Sotheby’s. What did you like about this initiative?
I am honored to be able to have the opportunity to curate with Sotheby’s. I want to help continue to merge the physical art world with the NFT space. With the help and trust of Michael Bouhanna (Sotheby's Co-Head of Digital Art), we are able to shine light on the fact that in the future there will not be a separation between NFT and fine art. It will all just be looked at as art.
The NFT and appreciation of art in its digital form been widely adopted now. For you, what do the physical components add to the work and the artist’s practice?
I personally hear a lot of people wanting a physical element, something they can put in their home and see beyond a screen. As we have more and more people entering the space I can see people wanting both physical and digital collections.
What in the link between the artists the selected?
There is so much talent that I see in the NFT space. Every artist that is in this auction has been making tremendous waves and each has created community around them. I could say a million things about each artists’ story, but all you really need to do is look at their art and the stories tell themselves.
You are also presenting a work in the sale. Could you tell us about it?
My piece in the show is an abstract painting with a digital screen built in. The piece is called More Life and the meaning behind that is to look beyond just what you see. It’s not just a painting; it’s not just an NFT. What we are doing is the future of art and technology.
For the digital screen I worked closely with Infinite Objects. The screen can run 24/7 and acts almost as the heartbeat to the painting.
Your work is a lot about gestures, movement and texture. How was it to work digitally when your practice is very physical?
It all starts with a painting. I think it’s important that my work starts in a way that represents me the most. I am known as a painter first. The beauty of the digital element is that it allows you to experiment with ideas that you might not be able to execute in real life. Also the NFT space is great because almost anything you can dream of doing is possible with the right partners and team.
How are NFTs helping young and new talented artists?
It’s hopefully giving them a new way to showcase their talent and reach people that they couldn’t have reached in the past. It removes a lot of the barriers that have been built in most traditional spaces.
Who’s your favorite artist and why?
I get asked this a lot and it’s a pretty obvious answer: Andy Warhol. He changed the art game more than anyone. He built an empire and knocked down walls for so many others.
Could you tell us about some of the artists you selected?
Artists like JN SILVA opened the door for all photographers in the space. While Fvckrender has taken things to the next level by building entire worlds to showcase his work. Claire Silver has been producing amazing art and has been an advocate in the space since early days. Drift literally risks his life for his art. How many artists can you say that about? Defaced is the future of the NFT space in my eyes. And for me… I am just lucky enough to have met these amazing artists and humbled to display my art next to theirs.