Beetle — as art

Beetle Spere 2019. / Photograph courtesy of volkswagen

It is said that the Volkswagen Beetle is not just a car, it’s an icon on the road. With its soft, round shape and headlights that look like imploring eyes, the car was part of popular culture for 65 years, and a symbol of mid-20th century counterculture.

The Beetle has starred in movies like Herbie and the Love Bug, the Transformers series and has likewise been the subject of many a song.

At the Beetle Sphere 2019 exhibit, which is ongoing at the SM Mall of Asia, it has become a work of art.

The exhibit is Indonesian artist Ichwan Noor’s giant sculpture made from a 1953 Volkswagen Beetle. It is part of his breakthrough sculpture series involving iconic components of 1953 vintage Volkswagen Beetles, which he transforms into a perfect sphere.

The idea emerged from Noor’s personal perception of objects that are products of a “transportation culture.” By combining the techniques of manipulation and substitution, the form of this sculpture tends toward realistic distortion, which allows new interpretations about the object (car), as a shift in perception that creates an associative meaning.

The sculpture’s visual form yields an impression of a sphere — the basis of all forms.

The sculptor’s refreshing interpretations of the cars in the “Beetle Sphere” series requires great technical skill to prevent any further unwanted damage to such a historical object.

He begins by developing a polyurethane mold of a Volkswagen Beetle, carving a spherical replica of the vehicle’s body before casting it in aluminum.

In order to achieve a work of such dexterity, Noor creates a separate, spherical interior that is fitted to complement the cast before painting its exterior.

Each piece stands at 180 centimeters in diameter and is augmented with the original auto parts by the manufacturer, including acrylic windows, lights and tires.

Transformed by the processes of casting and welding, the product is a hybrid of human and technological forms; warped organically into a sphere by the “hands of an artist” and decorated befittingly with industrial components.

Noor’s dramatic reconstruction of the vehicle’s iconic curves into new, simplified shapes perpetuates the idea of longevity in design and allows for a shift in perception.

Noor is a Yogyakarta-based artist renowned for his large-scale sculptures of hybrid human, animal and technical forms. He works predominantly with bronze, stainless steel, aluminum, various used materials and resin.

His recent works also include found components that are transformed through the processes of casting and welding.

His works have been exhibited in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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