South Africa-based Zimbabwe visual artist Greatjoy Ndlovu became Africa’s first fine artist to pivot his creativity into the non-fungible token (NFT) art scene after selling his first digital project titled Burnt Out on Thursday.
The digital asset sold for 0.7 ETH (Ethereum) online on the Async Art NFT marketplace, equivalent to US$2 265.
The big break was announced on Async Art’s official website the same day and was subsequently welcomed as “only the beginning” by the already massively successful esthetics creator.
The world NFTs is a blooming off-shoot of blockchain technology and crypto-assets. According to Wikipedia, a NFT is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.
African artists have particularly been slow in tapping into this lucrative market mainly dominated by Asian and Western artists.
However, Ndlovu who hails from Bulawayo is hoping his break will inspire many young African creators to take a leap and test the market for themselves, expressing an “alarmingly brighter future” in store for African art makers.
His NFT Burnt Out spotlights the woes of medical care workers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its launch marked a 12-day series of an ongoing “Silent Knights in Scrub Suits Exhibition” NFTs pre-sale on Async Art.
The industry-famed household artist has achieved tremendous straits throughout his eight-year career in the world of art. Apart from this successful first-time venture into the world of NFTs, Ndlovu holds an immense number of other accolades to his name, within and outside the industry.
Great One, as he is more affectionately known, boasts a collection of physical paintings on the walls of big celebrity names like the award-winning Hollywood producer Ava Duvernay, the maker of the Netflix hit four-episode series When They See Us. Among his collectors is also world-renowned comedian and host of the Daily Show Trevor Noah, South Africa TV star Pearl Thusi and retired football legend Marks Maponyane.
His works have also graced the walls of the Absa Group, the Rand Merchant Bank and various other companies, homes and hotels in South Africa and across the globe.
As if that is not enough, his story is subject to a collectible biographical book called The Path to Greatjoy that he co-authored with writer Ntsikelelo Mzibomvu. The book gained traction to the extent of being collected by Oprah Winfrey among many others and the exhibition featured on the popular luxury show Top Billing on SABC 3. It subsequently secured several interviews including the Morning Live News on SABC 2.
The artist is a highly pro-active philanthropist outside the art industry, currently serving as the Ambassador of SOS Children’s Village. He is also a recognised donor of Operation Smile Africa, an NGO that freely offers surgery to individuals with cleft lip and palate conditions around Africa.
Ndlovu’s story serves as an inspiration to any doubtful and hesitant African artist and he claims that his courage is what sets him apart and guarantees him success.