Jigmi Wangdi

A new market for artwork by Bhutanese artists is opening up as part of the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) art collection which was launched on UpsideSpace in collaboration with Terton Art Gallery in Thimphu.

The UpsideSpace is a curator-led digital arts platform that showcases artistic expressions from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.

UpsideSpace aims to build a thriving creative ecosystem of art enthusiasts, new audiences, existing collectors, and artists from untapped geographies in one place.

The NFT art collection exhibits around 30 art pieces from popular Bhutanese artists like TWINZ and Zimbiri. There are also the artworks by new artists like Tandin Chophel and exhibits the works of Lopen Namgay Tenzin.

Prior to this initiative, Bhutanese artists generally had a difficult time selling their artworks. The co-curator of the artwork, Pema Wangchug, said that this was owing to the type of collectables that are generic to the NFT market.

“Most of the collectable NFTs weren’t fixed on art but rather on computer-generated items that can be collected, like trading cards,” Pema said. “That is why most artists couldn’t navigate around this and they weren’t able to sell their artworks as NFTs.”

UpsideSpace and Terton Art Gallery, he said are focusing on bridging this gap. “As curators of the artworks, we are able to show the uniqueness of Bhutanese art.”

Pema added that another reason why Bhutanese artists could not sell their art pieces as NFT was because of cost that had to be paid to put up the artwork.

“The price to exhibit the artworks had to be paid using cryptocurrency and this was not possible. But now, UpsideSpace is bearing this initial cost to ensure our artists’ artworks can be exhibited” he said.

Most artists are excited to use this platform but are unaware and do not know about the NFTs or how they can enter the market. “That is what we are trying to change. To create a wider audience through a two-way channel with the purpose of generating exposure among our artists and the clients.”

An artwork by Pema Gyeltshen was sold for over Nu 100,000. The artworks are brought using cryptocurrency, which is converted into physical currency and paid to the artist.

This is Bhutan’s first hybrid digital/analogue NFT art collection. The artworks are one of a kind and are not collectable NFTs.

The collection strives to show pieces that represent Bhutanese art, culture, religion, and people.

Kelly Dorji and Pema Wangchug through Terton Art Gallery are strong supporters of the digital art form. They encourage more Bhutanese artists to reach out and connect with them.

The collection was launched on December 8.