Catch the action
THE FIRST NIGHT RACE – PHOTOGRAPHERS OF SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 2008
BY PAUL-HENRI CAHIER

What: French photographer Cahier has seen it all, from gripping starts to fatal crashes, having covered more than 400 Grand Prix races from the trackside since the 1980s. This exhibition features photographs he took at the world's first night race held in Singapore last year.
Where: Orchard Road (pavement stretch along Wheelock Place, Liat Towers and Far East Shopping Centre)
When: Sept 22 to Oct 3, 10am to midnight
Admission: Free
Info: Call 6344-2953 or go to www.visitsingapore.com/sgpseason

PINTOR'S F1 AT ION BY LARASATI AUCTIONEERS

What: Bali-based sculptor Pintor Sirait's smashed-up beauties are life-sized stainless steel replicas of F1 race cars. Some of these works weigh up to 250kg. There will be eight car sculptures, including three life-sized replicas.
The artworks will be accompanied by videos on plasma screens, as well as sculptures of Grand Prix race accessories such as race jackets and helmets.
Where: Ion Orchard, Level 1 Atrium
When: Next Friday to Sept 27, 10am to 10pm
Admission: Free
Info: www.larasati.com


Art in top gear
Museums and art houses are getting in on the F1 action with racing-themed exhibitions

Even as Formula One racers gear up to roar into town this month, art galleries, museums and art auction houses are in overdrive, putting on shows inspired by sleek cars.

Paintings and sculptures by Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, images by French photographer Paul-Henri Cahier and stainless steel works by Bali-based sculptor Pintor Sirait are among the exhibition timed to coincide with the Singapore Grand Prix from Sept 25 to 27.

Not all exhibitors are selling the works on display, saying the shows are meant to raise their profile. Asian-based auction house Larasati Auctioneers, for instance, is giving the public a chance to get up close to F1 race cars which will be on show at Ion Orchard. there are not the real thing, but stainless steel replicas.

Larasati chief executive Daniel Komala, 46, says the sculptures, worth about $500,000, are for display only. "With the buzz around the Singapore GP season, these F1-themed artworks were a natural fit to engage Singaporeans and visitors, and pique their curiosity in art."

Photography buffs have a chance to see accredited F1 photographer Cahier's shots from the historic Singapore race last year, the first held at night. Forty of his best images will be showcased along Orchard Road in the first large format outdoor exhibition of his works.

Opera Gallery Singapore at Ion Orchard will present the colorful works of Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, some of which will be on sale. The 80 artworks, worth about $2 million, are priced between $2,000 and $315,000.

Mr. Stephane Le Pelletier, 43, the gallery's Asia pacific director, says: "To add to the festive atmosphere, we commissioned some paintings of F1 names such as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

"Britto has the ability to create contemporary masterpieces that invoke a spirit of hope. His art makes people happy and we hope people will enjoy what they see."

Last year, it bought in 10 sculptures that were displayed along Orchard Road. Of these, three, including Reclining Lady by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, were sold for more than US$1 million (S%1,43 million) each.

Those who do not want to jostle with shoppers can opt for the museum experience. The Singapore Philatelic Museum in Coleman Street and the privately owned Mint Museum of Toys in Seah Street are telling the story of racing through toy cars and philatelic materials.
At mint, close to 100 toy cars, some dating back to early 1900s, track the sport's evolution. Owner Chang Yang Fa, 60, says: " You can see how the designs of the race cars have changed over the years, from square to oval to the kind of cars you see today.

"In the early toy cars, you can see there were props and no commercial exploitation. The sport may have become more glamorous today, but I feel somewhere the magic of racing has been lost."

Over at the Philatelic Museum, more than 300 stamps from around the world and 400 limited-edition car models track a similar story. They showcase cars with the bare basics to the fancy racing machines of today.

For artists such as Sirait, 47, the sleek race cars and the heart-pumping action they guarantee are inspiration enough. He hopes his sculpture will shift attention from the race-track action to conversations about the sport.

He admits that while he is not an F1 fan, he has been intrigued by the culture of the sport. "These high-tech, gravity-defying cars racing heros all the time. I am interested in using these works to explore issues such as the lack of Asian heroes and how, as Asians, we tend to absorb everything offered to us by the West."

The Britto and Cahier exhibitions fall under the Singapore Tourism Board's Singapore GP Season.

Ms. Lynette Pang, 38, director of entertainment, sports and arts at board, says: "In programming the 2009 season, we have kept a diversity of events to reach out to a wider audience. Visitors can see the works of artists who face re-interpreted and translated the F1 experience. These artists go beyond the raw energy of the race to arrive at new creative perspectives through art."

deepikas@sph.com.sg

 
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