Having F1 down to a fine art
There are several art exhibitions along Orchard Road that are centred on the Formula One theme, reports CLARISSA TAN.

IT'S the final day of the F1, and you need at least one for the road. While not exactly out on the streets, the life-sized car sculptures of Pintor Sirait are parked along one of the main shopping thoroughfares of Singapore.

Within the gleaming new confines of the ION Orchard stand eight stainless steel sculptures of race cars by the renowned Indonesian artist, including three life-sized replicas. While their reference to the famous F1 vehicle are unmistakable, the sculptures also bear quirky symbols and markings that distinguish them from the actual race cars. Playboy, for instance, has its chassis liberally smeared with lipstick marks, an obvious nod-nod-wink-wink to the macho, chauvinistic side of speed racing. It's sexy, too. More sobering is Democracy, which is ridden with bullet holes.

It's perhaps ironic that the exhibition, called Pintor's F1 at ION ORCHARD and organized by auctioneer Larasati, is situated within a mall, because the artist appears circumspect about our commercialized age. Or maybe the location just underlines his message more clearly.

"Formula 1 race cars have become something of an obsession in Asia," says the sculptor. known in the art world simply as Pintor. "It stands as an intense, telescoped symbol of globalization, and I wanted to explore exactly what is being worshipped.

"These life-sized sculptures are imposing, with rich details such as bullet holes, inscriptions with Chinese and Arabic script, engravings of traditional Javanese designs or kisses, and provocative English phrases. I hope these art pieces tell vivid stories and trigger people to think beyond the race-track action, and about the cultural tension and the universal human values we all face today."

Pintor says that he's "not a particular fan of the F1". "But I do think it's a great rallying platform for many of us in the West and Asia," he adds. "Through leveraging the widespread appeal of this popular sport, I hope to high-fight larger social issues."

The artist, who has held exhibitions in the Netherlands, China, France, South Korea, Malaysia and the US, says that he hopes that his works convey the "myth of the warrior and the myth of manhood."

"Through competition, we prepare boys to become men in the real sense, to enable them to become leaders who possess skills to survive, to have visions and able to execute these visions elegantly and artfully. I think it is important to get the audience to think and to feel deeper, to see what competition teaches us, and not only experience it as sport and entertainment." For something brighter and breezier, you need only go up three floors within the ION to the Opera Gallery, which is holding an exhibition of works by the famous Brazilian neo-pop artist Romero Britto. Some of Britto's works are directly related to the F1, for instance, he pas painted portraits of famous race drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in his signature style of black outlines and psychedelic colours. On the top of that, this week Britto, who's come to town, has a live painting session where he used large canvases which F1 greats Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard had first driven over, leaving clear tyre marks. Britto, who owns a Ferrari, a Bentley, a Range Rover and a classics yellow Mustang, says that he loves to watch racing because of the vehicles ("mostly the definitions and colours", the speed and the competition.

Art and racing are similar as "they are both about passion", he says. "The difference is, in the arts you can give it your all, but not to the point of risking your life or someone else's. The drivers risk this because of their great passion." To those who would say that his canvasses of tyre tracks are a bit gimmicky, Britto has this to say: "People can say what they want; it's a;; about perception, how you want to see what you see. For one person in one corner of the world, racing is crazy – why are those guys going so fast? But for others, it's about bringing together cities around the world, in an amazing way to celebrate life through sports. In the end, it is about merging different worlds and stimulating our senses in a positive way."

Also on Orchard Road, and held outdoors, is a photography exhibition of the works of F1 photographer Paul-Henri Cahier. The exhibition, called The First Night Race – Photographs of the Singapore Grand Prix 2008, comprises 40 large-format works that capture exciting moments of last year's race, both on and off the track. You can see these images, which show how Cahier overcame the technical and artistic challenges of photo-taking a race at night, if you amble along the pavement in front of Wheelock Place, Liat Towers and Far East Shopping Centre.

Then – lucky you – it's off to the races.