Arts & Entertainment

Argentine crypto-artist paints the famous, digitalizes, donates his works

By Augusto Morel

Buenos Aires, Sep 2 (EFE).- For years, he battled the problems associated with losing mobility in his right hand and, during the Covid-19 quarantine in Argentina, he found art to be a medium he could use to help those who needed help most.

Argentina artist Luka Nicolino, 39, paints portraits of celebrities and other famous people, including Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi and Atletico de Madrid coach Diego “Cholo” Simeone, and 100 percent of the money he makes from his works he donates to worthy causes.

In 2000, the right-handed Nicolino suffered an accident that cut the tendons and nerves in his right hand. After a number of years of therapy he trained himself to use his left hand and during the quarantine he began painting to “escape the pain and boredom.”

His first work was a portrait of Argentine actress Romina Yankelevich (1974-2010) requested by his son, Franco, as a present for her grandmother, the famous television producer Cris Morena.

“I didn’t want to charge him and he didn’t want it to be free, so I proposed donating the funds,” Nicolino told EFE.

On the social networks he learned of the case of Aaron, a boy who at age 4 survived a fire in which he lost his hands, his mother and was disfigured because by facial burns.

“When I learned about it, I cried for four days without stopping, until I said: ‘That’s enough. I’m not achieving anything with this. I have to start painting and get money together to help him,'” Nicolino said.

“Then, because of this situation, there followed a string of such cases and I didn’t stop (painting),” he added.

With money from the sales of other works, Nicolino paid for two eye operations needed by another boy so that he wouldn’t go blind and he even built a house for two parents with intellectual disabilities.

Nicolino digitalizes his canvases and offers them for sale in online markets to collectors, art aficionados and fans of the celebrities he paints.

After painting his subjects, the artist contacts them, proposes that they sign his works and then seeks to contribute the money he makes from them to worthy causes, although sometimes he only asks the celebrities to share his works on the social networks to get more people to become familiar with his efforts.

Among the portraits he has painted, the one of “Cholo” stands out, and he got the soccer coach to sign it to increase its value.

“I’m having the painting of Simeone digitalized and I’m offering it to different collectors. It’s being marketed on the online networks, media outlets and communications platforms,” he said.

He painted Messi when the striker put his own collection of exclusive digital images or non-fungible tokens (NFT) on the market in mid-August.

“I did the painting of Messi to kind of welcome him to the crypto-world, since he launched his NFT. I haven’t managed to get in touch with him, but my idea is to get him to sign my work when he returns to Argentina,” Nicolino said.

He also painted pop singer Tini Stoessel and the young cumbia singer-songwriter L-Gante, both of whom he did manage to contact to put their names on his works and publicize them on their social network accounts.

Currently, Nicolino is working on a portrait of Argentine singer-songwriter Nikki Nicole, with which he hopes to collect funds to share among four restaurants in Buenos Aires province.

Nicolino has a degree in public relations with a post-graduate degree in capital markets, and in his free time he attends a music conservatory where he played the guitar and the violin up until his accident left him unable to use his right hand for such things.

It was two years ago that he began devoting his life to art and helping his fellow man. “This gives my life meaning and it helps … people, too. It’s returning what I’ve been given, a second chance,” he said.

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