Motor bikes have been making people dream since they were invented around 120 years ago. And a new exhibition in the south-eastern French city of Lyon, explores the crossroads where motor bikes, bikers and contemporary art meet.
In the exhibition, Motopoetique, motorbikes are the stars. Over 40 international artists are showing works inspired by two wheels. And the themes are freedom, speed, wildness, death and immortality. It is a heady mix, and the curators are bike fanatics themselves.
Co-curator Paul Ardenne explained: “We wanted to show experimental works, meaning works which do not just illustrate something or represent a stereotype. It’s not about just saying ‘Oh, yes, bikes are a symbol of freedom’. We wanted to push the boundaries much further in order to investigate the possibilities of creating works full of imagination.”
Usually the grease stays inside a bike’s motor, but French artist Laurent Faulon covered his bikes with industrial grease. His work ‘Heavy Rider’ questions the individual’s relationship with consumer goods, because for him bikes are just consumer objects.
Faulon told euronews: “For me they are like objects of avarice, objects who are stuck in the grease of our desires. The idea was to make these bikes suffer with my treatment, using the double aspect of attraction and repulsion.”
Malaysian-born artist Moo Chew Wong is a big fan of bikes and drew inspiration for his series of 30 paintings from everyday street scenes. He explained: “When I see girls on a bike I am fascinated, for me it’s one of the most erotic things you can imagine. I can finish a painting in three or four hours. It’s a very unique and personal style, achieved with a palette-knife, gliding over the canvas very fast.”
British artist Chris Gilmour makes everything with recycled cardboard and glue, there is no metal or inner framework supporting his fragile life-sized structures. He lives and works in the Italian city of Udine, producing works which are both visual and conceptual, choosing objects for their visual appeal and cultural resonance.
He said: “It takes about two or three months for each one. The work I am doing is using a kind of commercial material, material discarded from commercial things to represent very valuable or important things.”
French artist Tïa- Calli Borlase disguised Ducati and BMW bikes, giving them the look of Medieval war horses. The artist herself is a keen rider.
She detailed the transformation process: “I completely covered these bikes with swathes of fabric and then added all the leather harness so as to evoke the equestrian world. That way I made a fusion, a hybrid of two worlds: bikes and horses.
Bikes and bikers are a never-ending source of inspiration for the artists being exhibited in Motorpoetique.
Wolfgang Spindler, the euronews correspondent at the show, concluded: “Whether its art or not, is up to each of us to judge, but one thing is sure, a theme like bikes attracts lots of people who normally take the ring road to avoid a museum of modern art.”