Ithra’s show brings football and art together in NFT exhibition

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Ithra’s show brings football and art together in NFT exhibition

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in neon and skylight.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Author

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) celebrates the art of the beautiful game in a unique exhibition at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. From Strike to Stroke features 64 NFTs by 32 artists from the competing nations, while Artificial Intelligence (AI) fuses the pieces of the warring two countries in each of the 64 matches into a work of art based on the parameters and results of the game.

The result is a collection of 64 unique NFTs created through a collaboration of man and machine. From Strike to Stroke opened on November 24th at the Galleria Mall in Doha, Qatar and runs until December 23rd.

“A global gateway and a cultural bridge between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world, Ithra channels the world’s passion for football into its infatuation with the arts as the world gathers for football’s biggest stage that is the World Cup ,” says the cultural promoter. “The exhibition combines the man-made with the machine-made, combining art, sport and technology in an innovative way.” The project is the culmination of the efforts of 32 emerging and established artists, each tasked with creating a piece representing their country and using their respective team’s jersey colours. After each match, the AI-powered algorithm combines the artists’ creations with match statistics to generate pieces of art representing each game.


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The final collection will be a unique set of pieces offered as NFTs – non-fungible tokens. The cryptographic assets are based on blockchain technology, and created in a process similar to cryptocurrencies.

From Strike to Stroke includes both artists who work in traditional ways and have never created NFTs and NFT artists who have not worked within the traditional scope of fine art. “The passion shared by soccer fans for the love of the beautiful game can touch the passion shared by art aesthetes,” said Dr. Shurooq Amin said in his curator’s brief for the exhibition.

Itra Football Exhibition Main2-750
A view of the World Cup NFTs exhibition.

“By connecting 32 artists from both the traditional and digital arenas, Ithra not only bridges the gap between Web2 to Web3, and between football and art, but further between man and machine, as the artists collaborate with AI-generation technology to create unique to create NFTs that combine art, football and technology.” The AI-generated Saudi Arabia-Argentina NFT is listed alongside other completed matches on OpenSea, the world’s first and largest digital marketplace for crypto collectibles and NFTs. Qatari artist Fatima Mohammed said that “as a young Qatari living in a country experiencing radical change, my work focuses on the social fabric of the Arabian Gulf and how it has evolved over time.

“My art depicts these cultural developments in the fictional world of ‘3naj’ (Anaj) through sculpture, painting and performance art. She is a product of the West, 3naj is my muse. Part Arabian and part American bald eagle, 3naj proudly displays her heritage by wearing the batoola (traditional metal face covering) as a protective golden beak.

“She nurtures her young by providing shelter, food, independence and the freedom of flight. 3naj himself cannot fly, but is fearless. Without wings, she is unable to flee from conflict, so her husband must stand up and speak his mind to create positive change in her community.” Jeddah-based Saudi conceptual artist Amr Salih Bogari, whose work combines digital drawings, collage and photography, began his NFT journey last year. He said of his piece: “Here I highlight the fusion of love with different local cultures and how strongly they are connected to each other in one country, one kingdom and one people. Green symbolizes abundance and white symbolizes peace. Sadu and Qat art are considered to be among the most important local arts that reflect the beauty of the artistic and cultural details of this lovely kingdom.” Argentinian expressionist artist Ezekiel German is known for exploring human emotions through art. “Argentines are very passionate about football; so in this piece I tried to capture the feelings generated by the championship through expressive lines that convey vitality and dynamism,” he said.

Abdias Ngateu is a Cameroonian artist born in 1990 and trained in graphic and decorative arts. Uncertainty, urban mobility, dehumanization, urban space and current events in the world are the themes he questions in his plastic and aesthetic work.

But he does not intend to present misery and pain; rather, he wants to spread the joy of life through fluorescence colorimetry. Ngateu has three important individual exhibitions in Cameroon and Mali and around thirty collective exhibitions since 2011.

“This work celebrates the joy of living through the soft and soothing colors of our beautiful country Cameroon,” he said of his World Cup art shot. “This painting on canvas shows the festive and joyful side we have in Cameroon and the joy of participating in a major international event, namely the World Cup.” “As the American chosen to represent my country through art,” said Edward Rivera, “I am very proud to present this work. I wanted to create a piece that represents America as a melting pot that is the mixture of illustrates culture that is rich in its roots and history.

“Even if we don’t all blend together perfectly at times, we are united in freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and that is what keeps us strong. As someone who represents a mixed culture myself, I am very proud to present what America means to me through art.”

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