Indonesian Sculptor “Ichwan Noor” Transforms Real Volkswagen Beetles Into Perfect Spheres And Cubes

This mind-boggling incarnation of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘gravity-defying’. The giant sculpture of a bright yellow 1953 Volkswagen has seemingly turned a car into a ball.

Indonesian sculptor Ichwan Noor transforms real Volkswagen Beetles into perfect spheres and cubes

Ichwan Noor is a Yogyakarta-based artist renowned for his large-scale sculptures of hybrid human, animal and technological forms. A graduate of the School of Visual Art at the Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta, and a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Yogyakarta, Noor works predominantly with bronze, aluminium and resin.

His recent works have also included found components that are transformed through the processes of casting and welding. In local circles he is sometimes called ‘The Maker’, a nickname he has earned through mentoring other artists and sharing his expert knowledge.

Noor’s work Beetle sphere, 2015, is part of an ongoing series the artist began in 2011 featuring the 1953 Volkswagen Beetle (or ‘People’s Car’) reimagined in a variety of new shapes. The car’s original design was purportedly based on a sketch by Adolf Hitler, and subsequently built by Ferdinand Porsche’s automotive design company in 1934. The mass-produced vehicle was manufactured with only minor changes for the next forty-one years.

Beetle sphere takes the vehicle’s iconic curves to the extreme. Responding to the car’s loaded political history and signature design, the work features the twentieth-century design classic warped into a sphere comprised of authentic and fabricated components. To avoid the damage involved in reshaping a real car, Noor carved a spherical polyurethane replica of the vehicle’s body and then cast it in aluminium. A separate spherical interior was produced and fit to the cast exterior. The resulting sculpture is augmented with original car parts by the manufacturer to complete the illusion.

Noor has explored the theme of transport in previous works featuring objects and figures in motion, such as Kaki #3, 2006, a human leg cast in resin and fused with peddles and bicycle gears; Traveller, 2008, a pair of bronze legs on rollerskates; and Pegasus, 2011, a horse with aeroplane wings. These sculptures reflect Noor’s interest in the combination of the man-made and the organic, in which human or animal forms are supported by or merged with technological attributes. Increasingly, however, Noor focuses exclusively on the man-made, modifying different vehicular components into new, simplified shapes in which their original function is challenged.

In 2011 Noor was included in the group exhibition Art Motoring: Motion and Reflection at the Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta. An initiative of the Indonesia Classic Car Owners Club, this exhibition paired forty-five classic cars with eighty-five works by Indonesian contemporary artists that responded to the vehicles’ designs. It was here that Noor presented the Beetle box, his first work in the Volkswagen Beetle series which featured the vehicle crushed into a cube.

Describing the series, Noor observes that his dramatic transformations of these iconic forms encourage audiences to see things differently:
“The idea emerged from a personal perception towards objects that are products of a ‘transportation culture’, which induces hints/signs of spiritual emotion. To behold a vehicle (car) is to have a ‘magical’ (supernatural) identity. 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.

Links: Ngv.vic.gov.au – An interview with Ichwan Noor

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