Panter Xhita has made waves in the crypto art space and has collaborated with CoinGecko and CoinDesk to bring her unique style to a broader audience. She speaks to Nina Knaack about equalising opportunities for artists across the world and documenting the history of cryptoart.
Panter Xhita studied visual arts in northern Argentina, but her interest in art goes back much earlier in her life. “My mother is a sculptor, so I grew up surrounded by sculptures and also paintings by her artist friends. During my childhood I spent many of my hours playing with paint and other materials in her studio,” she recalls. “So what started as something to entertain myself became my career over the years. And luckily, it's still just as fun.”
Having the liberty to do what you love has been amazing for Panter, although the transition from her physical work to the digital space was hard at first. “My degree is in sculpting and painting, so the shift was very big for me. I suddenly had to transfer my concepts and ideas to digital painting. It was a difficult but exciting process, especially since I had to learn to use some digital tools from scratch. In fact, if you study my work on the blockchain, you can not only see the development of my concepts, but also my skills.”
But why would a visual artist familiar with physical pieces jump into the digital rabbit hole of web3? It’s because Panter saw great possibilities within crypto art. “I actually saw the potential immediately. I understood that there was a new market developing for artists from around the world and, most importantly, that we all had equal opportunities to start with,” she explains. “I didn’t hesitate for a second and, in a week’s time, had left my waitress and kids’ art teacher jobs to dedicate myself to this space full time. It was crazy but so far it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Panter soon made her mark in the space. After a short period, she was already making NFTs in collaboration with CoinGecko and CoinDesk, and her work now has hundreds of collectors around the globe, with drops on the highly-curated SuperRare and Nifty Gateway. But her biggest contribution is no doubt her most recent. A History of Crypto Art is the product of extensive research on 90 OGs in the crypto art scene, tracing back to the beginning of the space to record its early years on-chain.
A multi-edition triptych, A History of Crypto Art was minted as its three separate parts on Nifty Gateway, but those who successfully collected all three components were able to burn the trio and receive the triptych as a whole — if they did so within 48 hours of the piece launching on September 8th. As there’s so much history in the project, it received a lot of attention in the community.
“From the beginning I’ve been studying the history of this space, since I was interested in what had happened before I came in. I liked studying their bodies of work and, of course, also used these studies to understand their path and to help me forge mine.”
The actual idea of making one big digital painting with the major early figures of cryptoart came to Panter earlier this year when she was living in Mexico. There, she saw the works of great Mexican muralists, like Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros. “I knew immediately. It was a very ambitious idea but, luckily, I was able to give myself five months to make the piece,” she says. “I knew it was going to take a lot of time and, for the last three months, I worked on it non-stop to finish it, without any weekends or days off. It was crazy, it was very challenging and exhausting, but now that I have finished, I am very happy that I did it.”
“There was a new market developing for artists and we all had equal opportunities.”
— Panter Xhita
The concept of A History of Crypto Art is a bit different from Panter’s previous work. “My work is usually about the relationship between technology and nature that coexists within us. In Insufficient, I portray a trampoline that cannot fully become a bridge to the landscape, and the object on the gray surface represents our only possible response to the immense silence of the world: culture and technology.
“It represents what we are, versus what we cannot access. Every NFT has a different object on it, but all are useless and overestimated creations. Insufficient to counteract the unfathomable and untimely mysteries of nature.”
“This has definitely been a leap in my career.”
— Panter Xhita
“In my work I also often compare the crypto art scene with the reality that surrounds me. Shadows of a Cliché was really about that: the stereotypes of crypto art, and in what way people from developing countries are actually able to make it for themselves in the metaverse.” She continues, “Initially, you could say that artists from these places have a good opportunity to sustain themselves with their work through the technology of the blockchain. On the other hand, the big successes within crypto art can feel very hard to reach and it’s easy to lose yourself in the space. This series is both about acknowledging the possibilities and, at the same time, showing the distance crypto art has to reality.”
By contrast, A History of Crypto Art began as a homage to the courageous and creative talents in the space: the likes of XCOPY, the Museum of Crypto Art, and Women of Crypto Art. “This time it was really about the OGs themselves, but it still relates to my other work because it touches upon the relation between ‘digital personas’ and the ‘real world’.” Nonetheless, you see Panter’s style in how she portrays her figures. “I really like to do portraits, to attentively paint the person. In almost all my projects I have portraits and, here, I really focused on that part. I loved working on it.”
Panter views her projects as traces of her creative process. “Each one is special in its own way,” she explains. However, A History of Crypto Art has a lot of room to grow. It’s not finished yet; “without a doubt,” she says, confidently. “History never gets old and it continues to write itself, day after day. This is just the beginning of A History of Crypto Art.”
Nina is passionate about telling the stories of artists and documenting their artistic processes, so that they can focus on creating. She’s written for a range of cultural magazines in the Netherlands, her homeland, including 3voor12 and the Groninger Museum. Her work as a contemporary art historian has seen her work at Museum Voorlinden, the Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Today, her main and ever-increasing focus is on the digital art world, and she is fascinated by the endless possibilities of web3 and how crypto artists are pushing the boundaries of creating without gatekeepers.
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