Interview with Collector: Cao Yin

Cao Yin’s Favorite Top 3 Collections

saint nazaire
Edition 1 of 1

This is the first officially released artwork of Robbie Barrat after he has started his academic program and set up his studio in Saint Nazaire Art School since last year.

Robbie said in the explanatory note of the Saint Nazaire that “finally accepting that not every image has to be a trick new way to use AI or a new answer to some question about digital artifacts. It’s nice to do both, but it’s also okay to just make images that are about my life.” His thinking reminds me the Flowers of Andy Warhol. Warhol’s Flowers prints created in 1964 was a refreshing and surprising departure from his previous themes of pop culture and commercialism. Like Warhol’s Flower, Robbie’s Saint Nazaire is also a refreshing departure from his AI artworks addressing generalized and abstract themes, which reflects an important change in his thinking of artistic creation. This is his first attempt to express personal feeling in AI works. Saint Nazaire encourages viewers to reconsider the role and meaning of AI in artistic creation and the relationship between Artist and AI. Saint Nazaire will be an important milestone and turning point in Robbie’s art career, and it will also be an important work in the entire AI art history.

Andy Warhol | Flowers
Green Bottle
Edition 1 of 1

The best way to live is to be yourself. That, in itself, is a protest.

Green Bottle references the idea of toxic masculinity by showing that alcohol abuse and choice of music play a huge part in forming the behavior of men.

At first glance, Osinachi’s work is similar to another African portrait artist, Amoako Boafo, but the difference is that Osinachi created a new visual language, not only because his work is very rare using office word and photo collages to create, more importantly, the theme of protest and struggle runs through all of his paintings. If the art of the 19th century valued aesthetic representation and the art of the 20th century valued the complexity of various concepts, then the collective consciousness of the emerging art generation determines that the contemporary art in 21st century should be a fight for or against identities.

Amoako Boafo

This kind of identity struggle runs through all of Osinachi’s works. He struggles for LGBT identity, for black people identity, for female identity, and for artist identity. He once said, the best way to live is to continue being yourself, that, in itself, is a protest. Characters without eyes are a common feature of his works, which is a symbol of collective identity. His paintings redefine himself and his subjects to help viewers understand the diversity of contemporary Nigeria as well as Osinachi’s own confusion and loneliness as a artist of multiple identities. Osinachi’s visual art works are like his novels. They are new ways of expressing, recording, displaying and approaching contemporary Nigeria and Africa. Osinachi’s work gives us a window. Although none of the characters in his works have eyes, his works allows us to see through his eyes the experience of ordinary Nigerians and Osinachi’s own. 

Edition 1 of 1

Why do i keep crying? Why don’t i recognize myself in the mirror? my voice is a strange sound… i wish my head stopped hurting.

I stumbled upon this work while browsing the Superrare Market page. It immediately caught my eye. After browsing all the works of Fewocious on SuperRare, I was excited to tell my friends that I found a very talented 17-year-old artist. Fewocious began her artistic career at the age of 16, which is also the age when Basquiat began to create on the streets of New York.

Fewocious’s works are similar to Basquiat, expressionism, explosion of vivid color and frenzied mark making, full of symbols. She used bright colors and contrasts, quick and violent brushstrokes, distorted shapes and proportions to express her strong emotions. Headache is a common theme in her works, she mirrors her own inner feelings directly in fragmented sentences in her works.

Jean-Michel Basquiat | Ernok

Like Basquiat, Fewocious also has a strong street art style, but Basquiat’s street elements came from Brooklyn and jazz music in New York in 1980s, Fewocious’s street elements come from the dazzling decoration of casinos and glamorous show music in Las Vegas in 2020.

Unlike Basquiat’s  tumultuous inner life, Fewocious is only a 17 years old girl who just loves to paint. Therefore, heart shape and tearful eyes are iconic marks of her work, and you can see lots of bright colors used in her works. In Fewocious’s series of works, you can see a variety of artistic genres, expressionism, surrealism, cubism and pop art.

Cao Yin’s View on Crypto Art Space

In my opinion, CryptoArt is still in a very early stage with few artists, few collectors, few artworks, low average bidding prices, and most importantly, it has not formed a division of specialization like the traditional art market. CryptoArt marketplaces like Superrare, Knownorigin and Makersplace are playing a comprehensive role as curator + auction house + gallery + media & critics and even storage. 

Now there are very few institutions and individuals that can perform specialized roles like traditional art market, but I dont think marketplace nowadays can fulfil all above functions in a mature industry in future. It is impossible to be a jack of all trades, furthermore, there will be some conflicts of interest among these different roles. 

I think there are three roles that are very critical to CryptoArt in the future,

CryptoArt Curator, who selects artworks, catalog themes and other supporting content for an exhibition as well. Curator should deliver public talks, publish articles to promote CryptoArt as he/she has the knowledge of the current collecting market. Curator should develop variety of influences outside of the Crypto world.  

CryptoArt Gallerist, represents and promotes crypto artists in the primary market, and with an exhibition space (online or offline) to offer and can raise relationships with collectors and event organizers. 

CryptoArt Critic, specialized in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating CryptoArt. Their critiques and reviews can stir debate on CryptoArt related topics. Their viewpoints add to public discourse concerning CryptoArt. Collectors will also rely on their advice as a way to enhance their appreciation of the cryptoart they are viewing.

There are already experts and institutions engaged in related works. For example, Superrare’s editorial plays a very professional curator role, Kate Vass Gallery is also doing great curation and gallerist job, Artonome is the best AI art critic I have ever seen. I can see that In the future, the competition between CryptoArt marketplaces will be largely determined by these value added roles.

On Collecting Crypto Art

My business is DeFi investment and incubation, I am the first DeFi VC investor in China since 2017, I also provide compliance services for crypto projects. My team members are based in both Finland and China. Before joining the blockchain industry, I worked as a financial analyst for many years and wrote several books.

My collection of CryptoArt is mainly out of my love for art. Before the Pandemic, I travelled a lot between China and Europe, Berlin is my favorite city because of the great digital art community there. After the virus broke out, it was impossible to visit as before, so I turned to CryptoArt online.

I am very happy to see that there are more and more various genres of artworks listed on the Cryptoart platform. I think that every crypto artists are great. There are many works I want to collect very much, but due to limited funds, I can only have some of them. 

My collection has not yet established a theme, but I am very interested in several directions: 1. AI Generative Art, 2. Digital Expressionism, 3. Crypto Pop, 4. VR. 

Artists I appreciate have something in common, multidisciplinary, eclectic, conceptual, identity ascription. For example, Osinachi is both a painter and a writer, his works pushed culture, pushed homosexuality, pushed femininity, pushed people of color, he put all of them in the forefront, Robbie is both an artist and an AI scientist, his works question us what makes an artist artist, and what makes human human, and Bronwyn Lundberg is a painter and animator, and a feminist artist, she together with another feminist artist Sarah Zucker used animation and GIF to speak to new audiences couldn’t get their voices heard or work seen.

Being a Chinese Collector

I am one of the earliest Chinese collectors. Although CryptoArt is still an extremely niche community in China, I am building a collector group called SHANGHAI with several other friends in Shanghai who are interested in CryptoArt also. we have currently 9 people, including Media guy, artist, crypto entrepreneur, VC capitalist. And we have established a CryptoArt topic wechat group, which has hundreds of participants now. Since June, we have cooperated with Chinese crypto medias to invite Crypto Artists to do AMA in our communities, and we have already invited Hackatao, Coldie, Yura Miron and other artists participated in the event. In the future, we are planning to invite more artists to the Chinese community. 

Chinese CryptoArt fans just begin to learn art appreciation and collection, hence still very few of them have started to bid. Most members of the Crypto Community in China are young people, and a lot of them come from IT industry, therefore, lacks sufficient art appreciation ability and sense, it will take a period of time for them to start collect. However, since we build the group, more and more people have come to contact me, hoping to learn about CryptoArt. Among them are members from the cryptocurrency circle and also some people from art industry. I am very optimistic about the future of CryptoArt market in China.

Author profile
Cao Yin

Managing Director of the Digital Renaissance Foundation, has been investing and incubating DeFi projects since 2017, including Acala, Dipole and etc. He is a staunch supporter and researcher of digital art, hoping to reconcile rational digital finance and perceptual digital art like Yin and Yang.

Author profile

SuperRare is a marketplace to collect and trade unique, single-edition digital artworks.

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