London based artist Jaime Gili is joining forces with AMT, Toni Chinchilla´s workshop in Manresa to make a series of art cars from selected, restored classic automobiles. Gili´s work is known for expanding painting beyond its traditional limits, encompassing canvasses as well as large projects in private and public buildings.
Painting a car is for Gili a childhood dream that started with an obvious interest in cars, but with the added question, “Why the lack of colour in everyday life?” In fact, the famous quote by Henry Ford about black being the only colour available, has lived almost as a mandate until today. If one looks at the colour palette of car manufacturers, there are thousands of colours to choose from, but only a handful are bright reds, oranges or greens amongst hundreds of navy blues, greys and blacks. Professor and artist David Batchelor in his book Chromophobia (2000), studied and explained this fear of colour in society, a phobia that penetrates cultural and intellectual circles. There is a generalised ‘chromophobic’ impulse – “a fear of corruption or contamination through colour”. Batchelor adds “this is apparent in the many and varied attempts to purge colour, either by making it the property of some ‘foreign body’ – the oriental, the feminine, the infantile, the vulgar, or the pathological – or by relegating it to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential, or the cosmetic.” Jaime Gili’s work is in great part about colour, and that cannot be said about many artists or even of many painters. His work stems from a Latin American tradition of modern abstract painting and the 1950s concept of ‘synthesis of the arts’, in which Venezuela excelled through the second half of the 20th Century. According to Gili, however, this tradition has only a few exponents that elaborated in depth their study of colour, geometry, light and everyday life. A list of artists elaborated by Gili, crucial to the contextualisation of the Nomonochrome project, has Max Bill, Carlos Cruz Diez, Hélio Oiticica, and Alejandro Otero as interrelated influences. To start the project, Gili chose a Golf MKI convertible. The lines of this iconic model of the 80s always attracted the artist, a teenager in that decade. The seemingly all-straight-line design of the painting perfectly follows the slight curves of the body, and the uniquely mixed primary-colour palette refers to the beginnings of Modernist geometric abstraction. The very specific design adapt to the shape of the car, subtly enhancing and highlighting some of its curves with strong colour juxtapositions, creating new points of visual tension. The idea is that, after this car, others will follow to complete a collection of about a dozen cars in as many years. Gili was born in Caracas in 1972 from Catalan parents. He has lived in London since studying at the Royal College of Art, but he also studied in Caracas, Barcelona and Paris. He has had solo exhibitions in London, New York, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid and Zurich, amongst other cities. His large scale public art pieces can be seen in London, Miami, Portland and Caracas. Toni Chinchilla has over 30 years of experience with classic car restoration, and has his own workshop, AMT, in the centre of Catalonia since 2002. After years of collaborating on some of Gili’s artworks, Chinchilla has gained the ability to ‘crystallise’ Gili’s ideas in metal. Toni’s workshop is located in the area from where Gili’s family originally came, and very near the company where the artist´s father worked for the European car wheel industry.
As an artist interested in cars, Gili has said jokingly that he had to start his own series as he “couldn’t wait until old age to be invited to the BMW Art Car programme”, referring to the BMW art car programme which has existed since 1975 when French racecar driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain commissioned Alexander Calder to paint a BMW 3.0 CSL and sold the idea to BMW. After him, artists such as Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were invited to paint on contemporary BMW models. But the idea of the artcar is much older than the 1970s. Sonia Delaunay is probably the most prolific and the mother of all artcars, since as early as 1928 she worked on a Citroen B12 to advertise one of her fabric designs. Later in 1935 she also did a Bugati type 35, and in 1968, was commissioned by Matra’s Jean-Luc Lagardère to paint a 530A.
The convertible version of the Golf Cabriolet, was produced from 1980 to 1993. The model used is an original 1991 model, one of the last ones in production. It has a reinforced body, transverse roll bar, and a high level of trim, keeping, as all models did, the pre-1980 style of rear lamp clusters. The Mk1 Cabriolet is of unibody construction built entirely at the Karmann factory, from stamping to final assembly, with Volkswagen supplying the engine, suspension and interior for Karmann to install. The body of the Cabriolets like this did not change through the entire production run, except for a larger fuel tank and smaller spare tyre introduced in the 1984 model year. This 1991 model, like all Cabriolets from 1988 onwards, is fitted with a Clipper kit from the factory, featuring smooth lower bumpers, wheel arch extensions, and side skirts. Gili’s design, with its straight lines, perfectly follows the slight curves of the body of the MKI. The very specific design adapts to the shape of the car, subtly enhancing and highlighting some of its curves with strong colour juxtapositions, creating new points of visual tension.
The list of cars in line for Nomonochrome project shall follow and catch up with Jaime’s career and the places where it has developed, presenting cars common in Venezuela in the 70s and European and British cars from the 80s. The list is of course based on various variables, such as aesthetic potential for painting, availability and realistic possibilities of purchase. Suggestions are welcome, but so far these are the cars we would like to work with: Seat 600 1972 (already in pre production) Built as a subsidiary of Italian Fiat, Seat started the motorization of Spain, under Franco, with the Seat 600. Making this car will be a homage to the Martorell plant that fabricated them. The painting will be based on curves, following the shape of the car and in contrast to that on the Golf MK1. 1980s Jaguar XJS convertible Following the mini car Seat 600, my choice for a first Brtish car comes also as a contrast to the 600. A long, high consuming XJS would make a great canvas for a painting about speed. 1970s Land Rover Series IIA 1968 Ford Mustang VW Camper van Citroën DS