In the hood: Venus Over Los Angeles invites artists to turn cars into canvases

BMW car in yellow textured
Pictured: a BMW i8, covered with Italian futurist painter Giacomo Balla’s Street Light
(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

Venus Over Los Angeles' current exhibition, ‘Piston Head II: Artists Engage the Automobile’ invites artists to consider the car as a design object, a sculptural form and, ultimately, as a blank canvas.

Few cultural symbols are more indicative of modern life than the automobile – particularly in Los Angeles, the city that grew around cars. ‘Piston Head II: Artists Engage the Automobile’, currently on view at Venus Over Los Angeles, cements this legacy by inviting artists to consider the car as a design object, a sculptural form and – ultimately – as a blank canvas.

The show is well-situated in the gallery’s 14,500 sq ft converted warehouse space, a perfect analog to a custom garage. Indeed, Venus collaborated with Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia Customs in Milan, presenting two sleek sets of contemporary wheels: an Alfa Romeo 4C, hand painted with a scene from Hokusai’s The Great Wave, and a BMW i8, custom-wrapped with Italian futurist painter Giacomo Balla’s Street Light.

However, if the exhibition has a centre of attention, it's Peter Shire’s Mr Truck Goes to Coffee or This One’s for You (2016). A 1979 Toyota Flatbed with a multi-coloured, cylindrical enclosure, Shire’s work served as a bar for the exhibition’s opening (and shouldn’t a Toyota Flatbed always have a bar?). Not far away, Katherine Bernhardt’s colourful 1994 Jaguar XJ (Jungle Jaguar, 2016) and Jonas Wood’s tiger-printed Volvo station wagon (Untitled, 2016), take a stand for fantasy and childlike wonder, while Lawrence Weiner’s Nash Metropolitan drives you, stuttering and jolting, back into the art world.

An adjoining room takes a more cultish, noir tone with Matthew Day Jackson’s custom black Super Comp Drag Racer, Will Boone’s dark red, tarp-adorned Chevy Blazer and Sterling Ruby’s legendary BUS (2010). Nostalgia abounds – look no further than pieces by Richard Prince, Cesar, Olivier Mosset, and Keith Haring for signals that the automobile is taking a significant place in art history.

BMW with blue textured

The Great Wave

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

The gallery collaborated with Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia Customs in Milan, presenting an Alfa Romeo 4C, hand-painted with a scene from Hokusai’s

Pink and brown textured BMW

Other specimens include Katherine Bernhardt’s colourful 1994 Jaguar XJ (Jungle Jaguar, 2016)...

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

Wood’s tiger printed car

... and Jonas Wood’s tiger-printed Volvo station wagon (Untitled, 2016), taking a stand for fantasy and childlike wonder

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

Blue and pink design car

Kenny Scharf's Daisymobile, 2014, is a 1975 Pontiac Gran convertible, customised with enamel, acrylic, fibreglass, diamond dust and Swarovski crystals

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

Bus with black coloured

Pictured: a view of Sterling Ruby’s legendary BUS, 2010

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

The show is well-situated in the gallery’s 14,500 sq ft converted warehouse space, a perfect analog to a custom garage.

BMW car coloured with black and white acrylic paint 

Richard Prince's The Odyssey, 2016 –  a 1970 Challenger embellished with acrylic paint 

(Image credit: Robert Wedemeyer)

INFORMATION
’Piston Head II: Artists Engage the Automobile’ is on view until 10 September. For more information, visit the Venus Over Los Angeles website (opens in new tab)

Photography: Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Venus Over Los Angeles

ADDRESS

Venus Over Los Angeles
601 South Anderson Street
Los Angeles, CA 90023

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