GCrypto is going big for its first NFT launch. And they’re working with noted sculptor and painter Reen Barrera to bring his work to the digital world.
In the past few years, the rise of Web3 and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have changed, shaped, and affected how many industries operate. And no truer is this than in the art world. While physical art and its associated spaces will always be there, NFTs have allowed artists, both big and small, to translate their work on a digital scale. Not only do NFTs give the chance for artists’ work to have a wider reach, but it also serves as a new opportunity for artists to delve into an emerging world and medium.
This space is something GCrypto, GCash’s cryptocurrency arm, is looking to explore as they bring the work of Filipino artists to the digital realm. This is why they tapped acclaimed Filipino artist Reen Barrera, who’s had his work be shown in the US, Japan, the UK, and more, as he brought his Ohlala doll to the NFT world for the first time.
The basement of The Astbury in Poblacion on April 23 was filled with art lovers and NFT collectors dressed in bright colors and other fun ‘fits as they witnessed the official launch of House of Ohlala. Megan Young and Mikael Daez served as the hosts of the event as they guided the crowd in the exciting new art venture.
Serving as a collaboration between GCrypto, local NFT marketplace Likha, and Makati-based art gallery Viny on Vinyl, House of Ohlala is Reen Barrera’s first-ever NFT collection. Centered on Barrera’s famous Ohlala doll, the collection brings the sculptor and painter’s work to the digital space. The pieces focus on the doll’s detailed faces, with textures that pop and visuals that capture expressions that will have you doing a double-take. They speak thousands of words as Ohlala serves as Barrera’s outlet and interpretation of his personal experiences.
If the name Reen Barrera sounds familiar to you, that’s because the Paris-born artist has made a name for himself in the local art scene with his neo-expressionist style through handmade sculptures and paintings. He’s been particularly successful with his two central characters, Ohlala and Duge, the former a tribute to how Barrera’s Visayan family pronounced the word dog and the latter being a tribute to his father.
These characters serve as his gentle commentary on socio-economic classes as the canvas cloth adorning most of his artworks show how people can shape their destiny regardless of their background. Now, Barrera’s acclaimed Ohlala doll takes center stage in its own NFT collection.
The House of Ohalala collection was made available on GCrypto NFT Hub. While buying and selling NFTs aren’t new, GCash is looking to use its position and resources to turn finding and buying NFTs more convenient. To that end, Jong Layug, Head of Wealth Management at GCash, announced during the event that GCrypto was now available nationwide.
House of Ohlala can be a great addition to people’s NFT collection given that it comes from an internationally-acclaimed Filipino artist. Also, it gives Barrera’s fans an easier accessibility to own artwork from an artist who is known to have long wait times when it comes to getting one of his sculptures or paintings. And on top of it all, owners of NFTs from House of Ohlala will be able to access exclusive perks.
NFTS AS THE NEW MEDIUM
Surprised and happy is how Reen Barrera described the feeling of seeing the receptive crowd at Ohlala’s NFT launch. The technology is still relatively new, and this is his first foray into NFT art. But even so, his fans were ready for it. “Sobrang special niya kasi thinking na [malayo] narating yung character ko,” shares Barrera in an interview with NYLON Manila.
Barrera found himself working on NFTs after Vinyl on Vinyl tapped him to be part of their collaboration with GCrypto. It soon dawned on the artist that he was entering something special. And while he spent most of his career working on a physical medium, he still found a passion for working on the digital plane. He citied a digital painting class he took before as one of the reasons why he didn’t feel out of place in making the NFT collection. ”Bumalik yung love ko sa digital art.”
Working on House of Ohlala felt natural to Barrera and showed him how NFTs were the next field ready to be explored by artists. “Pwede siyang i-treat as a medium,” he muses. Needless to say, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Reen Barrera’s work on NFTs as he teased the hope and possibility of more collections in the future.
While GCash is known as one of the go-to platforms for digital payments and other financial needs, delving into the world of NFT art felt like a no-brainer given the country’s strong adoption of the technology. “We think that collecting NFTs and digital art is growing, and it’s going to be there for some time,” shares Jong Layug.
As for why Reen Barrera was the perfect artist to work with, Layug cites his strong following in the art world and the fact that it’s not easy to acquire pieces from his physical collections. “When we use the power of digital art, you’re actually able to create a bit more.” Above all, GCash’s tapping into the emerging space is their way to support Filipino artists as the company looks to collaborate with more creatives down the road.
Event photos by Excel Panlaque