Vehicles for visual art

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Ayala art
The artists’ interpretations of the Honda, Isuzu, KTM and Volkswagen brands.

BMW PIONEERED turning cars into proper artworks — as opposed to cars merely being described as “works of art,” or “rolling sculptures,” even if deservedly so in some cases — through its Art Cars. The project that started in 1975, with Alexander Calder’s ministrations on a BMW 3.0 CSL, has spawned 18 Art Cars to date, the pieces rendered by such greats as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Jeff Koons, as well as by, frankly, dubious choices (Ken Done, Esther Mahlangu?). Jenny Holzer’s conceptual take on a BMW V12 LMR race car, though, more than makes up for the missteps.

In any case, the Art Cars to this day continue to prop the cars-as-artworks argument, a point the Ayala-owned AC Automotive group recently also bolstered through its own “art car” project.

The company, representing the Honda, Isuzu, KTM and Volkswagen brands in the Philippines, on March 1-4 displayed the vehicle-centric works of four Filipino artists at Art Fair PH. The pieces, according to AC Automotive, are “re-imaginations of contemporary automotive architecture by rendering and defining the ‘melding point’ of science, art, machine, humanity and technology.”

Artists tapped for the project “re-imagined” each of the brands: Reg Yuson for Honda, Dan Raralio for Isuzu, Pete Jimenez for KTM, and Art Lozano for Volkswagen.

Mr. Yuson’s “Fear or Desire” presented Honda as a toy by using a current Honda Civic’s fascia, hood and grille as a sculpture that mimics a scale model yet to be plucked out of its retaining frames and assembled. AC Automotive said Mr. Yuson’s Honda piece only mirrors the “fresh and witty” concepts his sculptures lend to open public spaces.

The “Abstract out of Concrete” piece by Mr. Raralio embedded Isuzu truck parts in concrete blocks, which, AC Automotive said, put the artist’s “creative fingerprint” over his process of “traversing the figurative to abstract, classical to modern,” which is “interspersed with subtle word play.”

The focus of Mr. Jimenez’s “Racing Heart” is the signature orange trellis frame that props up a KTM motorcycle. The artist pounded it so it could take the shape of a heart, within which he encased sundry motorcycle parts. It’s the sculptor’s “visual gem of a pun,” according to AC Automotive.

For his part, Mr. Lozano translated his 18-year love affair with the Volkswagen Beetle into a depiction of “Urban Progress,” a three-dimensional painting that incorporated an actual Beetle hood and parts of other Volkswagen models. This, AC Automotive said, stays true to the manner by which the artist has used the environment around him — Baguio City, mostly — to “reflect on his canvas.” “Urban Canvas,” pointed the auto company, “evokes the fluid, overwhelming hustle and bustle of human progress in the time of rigid metal.” — BMA