Lot 236
  • 236

ICHWAN NOOR | Beetle Sphere

500,000 - 800,000 HKD
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  • Beetle Sphere 
  • Aluminium painted & original parts VW Beetle, colour: red
  • Diameter: 180 cm; 70 3/4  in. 


This work is in good overall condition as viewed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Ichwan Noor is an Indonesian artist renowned for his captivating and fantastical sculptures involving human, animal and technological forms. Noor was trained at the School of Visual Art at the Indonesia Institute of the arts (ISI) in Yogyakarta, and became a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Yogyakarta. Having exhibited and achieved international recognition for his three-dimensional sculptures, skillfully constructed out of a diverse range of materials, such as bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and resin, Noor has carved a unique dialectic in the genre of sculpture. The artist’s experimentation has led him to create astoundingly transformational works. Importantly, his exploration into automobile-based sculptures came into fruition in 2011, when he began an ongoing series involving iconic components of 1953 vintage Volkswagen Beetles – arguably one of the most recognizable four-wheelers, reconfigured into new forms including cubes and spheres. The present work, Beetle Sphere, in a bright red color, is one such piece from a collection that has been featured in several major international and private institutions in Indonesia, Australia, Germany, the United States, China, Sweden and beyond. Noor’s breathtaking transformation of the automobile has urged audiences the world over to redefine their perception of the object and has in turn, placed him at the forefront of Indonesia’s contemporary art scene.
First exhibited internationally in 2013 at Art Basel Hong Kong, the Beetle Sphere is a spectacle to behold, a fantastical creation that yields an instantly familiar, yet unrecognizable presence. In its unyielding, compressed state, the work presents to audiences a curious task -- to interpret each dexterously executed curve, tuck and dent. The audience may imagine the malleability of the car, visually unfolding the piece in their minds, like the delicate unraveling of a crunched up piece of paper. In a moment’s notice, the viewer is acquainted with an uncanny impression as he or she reconstructs its compact shape and is left confounded by the artist’s construction process. It is this immediate response to the distinctive rotundness of the globally successful design that attracted Noor to use the Volkswagen cars as medium in the first place. The result of Noor’s techniques of manipulation and substitution is a flawless masterpiece that attests to his painstakingly arduous artistic process.

The sculptor’s refreshing interpretations of the cars in the Beetle Sphere series requires great technical skill – not only during the process of distorting a vintage car, but also to prevent any further unwanted damage to such a historical object. In the beginning, the artist develops 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. Essentially, Beetle Sphere is a sculpture that functions as a realistic distortion of a functional, almost utilitarian Volkswagen, itself a work of art by design, into a dysfunctional masterpiece – a true breakthrough in Noor’s career.
Indeed, a quintessential piece from Noor’s opus, this trailblazing work is a response to the car’s loaded political history. The 1953 Volkswagen Beetle (Volkswagen being the literal German translation of ‘People’s Car’) was supposedly conceived by Adolf Hitler and subsequently mass-manufactured. Since its design has remained virtually unchanged, proving successful in its conviction, the artist ensures that audiences across the globe recognize elements of the classic twentieth-century car despite its unusual context. By exploring the combination of the man-made and the organic, the sculptor urges his viewers to redefine their preconceived notions of the object and ensuring a continuation and immortalization of the original design.