Newswire Art & Culture

Smoke and Mirrors

"Queen of Staffs" by Justin Aversano from Smoke and Mirrors (CNW Group/Justin Aversano)

Renowned mixed media photographer and NFT photography advocate Justin Aversano will debut the latest iteration of his acclaimed series ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ at Gabba Gallery, Los Angeles. The exhibition will feature 78 limited edition silkscreen prints attached to NFTs that reimagine a tarot deck through the medium of photography. The 22 major arcana (gold) and 56 minor arcana (silver) portraits printed on papyrus capture Aversano’s local healers, spiritualists, creatives and family in handmade analog prints which the artist deems “hybrid photographic neo-hieroglyphs.”

Smoke and Mirrors presents a timely exploration of memory, history, spiritualism and psychogeography of Aversano’s sitters with a nod to the global growing interest in technopaganism and spirituality expressed through photography. Marrying the worlds of occult and crypto, Aversano’s evocative portraits showcase a sense of community, family, love, grief and individualism. Printing on papyrus, Aversano draws the comparison between ancient Egyptian scrolls and NFT photography. Used to document important information from religious texts to legal documents, the papyrus scrolls were carefully passed down through generations, much like how Aversano is using photography to document the world, and NFTs are being used to preserve digital assets today. The artist entwines the private with the public by aligning an evocative portrait of his father standing by the grave of Aversano’s late mother for a card titled “Death” alongside healers and spiritualists which the artist has encountered during his Hero’s Journey through grief.

Justin Aversano“We’ve been creating these works here for over two years now. I had the concept, and I’ve been working on this since 2016. And since March of 2021, we’ve been silk-screening this project to be minted and sold on the blockchain.”

Aversano joined forces with Jason Ostro of Gabba Gallery through their work on Aversano’s Twin Flames project in 2021. According to Ostro:  “After Twin Flames, Justin called me up and said, ‘We’ve got to build a studio,’ and I said, ‘come to Gabba.'”

Since then, Aversano and Ostro have been working hard printing the collection, debuting this March. The NFTs of the artworks are already sold out on the primary market but are available to buy via secondary markets such as Opensea.