Ever Gold [Projects] presents #cryptomemes: women and Leo DiCaprio, a solo exhibition of new work by Christine Wang. These paintings are part of an ongoing series by Wang recreating memes about cryptocurrency. Wang’s series explores cultural literacy and the way in which the combination of cryptocurrency and painting bring up similar issues of elitism and access.
This new installment to Wang’s series is comprised of paintings replicating crypto memes in two categories: those featuring women and those featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. As in most memes, images are overlaid with text; some of the text is understandable to an average viewer while some of it is less approachable. The term “HODL” (to hold, rather than to sell cryptocurrency, originating with a typo on the Bitcoin Forum and eventually becoming a related acronym for “Hold On for Dear Life”) appears in a number of the paintings. Cryptocurrency is a subject many people only superficially understand—perhaps the same can be said about painting—to the extent that even people who invest in cryptocurrencies do not necessarily understand the mechanics.
Cryptocurrency jokes are arguably elitist, and in that sense a good fit for the higher cultural form of painting, but the aesthetics are distinctly low brow—the images Wang references are designed for quick, immaterial consumption and do not need to be particularly attractive or well-composed. Wang elevates these images through her replication and makes them more available for close examination through the contextual transformation.
Wang’s crypto paintings are both a marker of the current moment and a kind of exercise in reading or failing to read an artwork—creating paintings with this niche interest-based humor is particularly fitting. Artwork, which often intimidates its audience with a mixture of insider information and ambiguous references to theoretical knowledge, is the perfect host for a similarly difficult subject. Wang’s crypto paintings unite these two distinct worlds of culture.