Cover Keiken's The Life Game (2021),

There’s a new club in town for all those digitally inclined art enthusiasts: the newly launched The MetaArt Club

Like most people, Levina Li-Cadman was shocked when Beeple’s The First 5000 Days sold for US$69 million at a Christie’s auction in March last year. “I was floored,” says Li-Cadman. “I just kept thinking: I need to explore this space by buying NFTs and launching NFT-related projects.”

She did exactly that by joining forces with digital art collector Frank Smits to open The MetaArt Club (TMAC), a membership-based organisation which seeks to bridge the gap between collectors and digital artists.

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As the co-founder of arts consultancy Arts-Partners, Li-Cadman has helmed several public art projects in Hong Kong, including the Harbour Arts Sculpture Park in 2018, and the Event Horizon installation by Antony Gormley in 2015. Smits is an avid collector and curator of digital art. He lived in Jakarta for 20 years before moving to Hong Kong three years ago, and was surprised to see the city had been comparatively slow to embrace NFTs.

In February 2021, “I began to hear the word NFT on [audio-based social network] Clubhouse,” says Smits, who was instantly hooked. He started connecting with artists through social media and began to build his own collection. “There was a huge gathering of [digital] artists on Clubhouse; they were excited to find a platform [on which] to present themselves and to find a way to become financially relevant. With the blockchain opportunity, they had a lifeline.”

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Through TMAC, Smits and Li-Cadman hope to bring to the fore artists who are emerging in this relatively new medium. They have compiled a roster of 35 artists from 20 countries, who between them have created a total of 9,888 NFTs combined into 108 artworks, issued under special limited editions. Membership perks include access to these NFTs, as well as the occasional free drop—often featuring an exclusive collaboration among artists on the line-up. 

Artists include John Park of Angry Apes fame; Susie Q, who Li-Cadman describes as a sort of “Korean version of [Yoshitomo] Nara”; and Liu Jiaying, who holds the record for creating the most expensive NFT sold in China. 

One of the most notable names is Keiken, a female art collective among the winners of the 2021 Chanel Next art prize, who strive to be “protectors of the metaverse”, they tell Tatler. Through their practice, they attempt to construct an improved reality within the metaverse, which they say “gives us more space for our work to exist, as our work is very gamified”.

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The inevitable convergence of art and gaming extends to Ziyang’s Wu’s practice, another fixture on the MetaArt Club roster: Wu includes a video game with the purchase of video artwork from his 24 Panda series. This increasingly common trend of involving a gaming aspect in the work, which NFTs allow for, taps into new potential collector markets, specifically future generations. 

“Perhaps another argument for [NFTs’] relevance is that young generations live off a screen, whether we like it or not,” says Smits. “That’s their life: screens are going to play an integral part in the future. They’ll be inescapable; walls will turn into LED screens.” Seeing as NFTs are here to stay and thrive, TMAC offers a local point of entry for those inclined looking to invest or even just satisfy their curiosity.

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