Sunday, 15 August 2010

Car, crash and art works inspired

Perhaps it's the association between Crash and J G Ballard, works from two artists caught my eyes recently that depict the everyday object beautifully sabotaged.

Danish artist Nicolai Howalt made a series of close-up studies of dented and scratched metal surfaces of wrecked cars, which are often visually disorientating and resemble digitally enhanced abstract paintings. They capture the violent forces and the dark romance of destroyed car bodies in a sobering yet seductive way.

Other works in the series take a step back to examine the larger picture, the smashed windshields and deflated airbags, a strand of bloodied brown hair or a pack of unfinished cigarettes, which are intrinsically Ballardian and voyeuristic.

Howalt’s images were on show in Copenhagen in Feb 2009 at the Martin Asbæk Gallery.

Another artist who had a series of work evolved around the (crashed) car is Li Hui, a multi-media artist based in Beijing whose installations have been widely exhibited and praised in China and Europe.

His latest exhibitions in Germany this year included his extensive sculptures and installations in steel, acrylic, LED  technologies and laser light, which work together to construct enormous and dreamlike scenarios. In particular, Untitled (2007) depicts a crashed car that was demolished in a real accident. The remains are bandaged and fog is rising out of it while they are illuminated by over 13.000 red laser lights mounted to the museum’s ceiling, making the car "breathe and bleed" silmutaneously, like the injured person who was inside quietly waiting in pain after the accident.

Li's obssession with cars started from his graduation project in 2003, which was a converted Jeep with two front drives and no rear end. Since then he has been experimenting with less traditional materials than clay which he was trained to use as a sculptor.

Similar to the UVA, Li's extensive use of laser and lights does not stop at making up lines and squares. Amber (2006) for instance, is a steel car model filled with neon lamp and a dinasaur skeleton on the inside made of neon acrylic. Other works take it one step further from cars and Jeep, including aircraft carrier and rockets. Li likes to challenge the common perception of products associated with the industrial and modern age. Check out his interview with The Creators Project here for the thinking behind his work.

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