Bikes are a huge source of inspiration for many people, and we've seen that time and time again with unique bike racks, bike sculptures, naked bike riding events and so on. But what about making artwork using the carefully manipulated skidmarks of a bicycle?
Well, Berlin-based, Austrian artist Christian Grillitsch is doing just that in his "Velodrawings," which are a combination of chance and control as he interfaces with his tool -- the bike -- purposefully skidding over primed boards of wood which record these quick movements. It may sound easy, but if you check out the video, you'll see the numerous repetitions needed to build up his textures -- all done without falling down:
Christian stumbled upon his singular style of ‘velodrawing’ by serendipitous accident when, whilst out cycling, he swerved to avoid a pedestrian, braking harshly. On spotting the tire mark under the wheel, he states ‘I immediately knew that this was it, I found my artistic language’. The artist then became obsessed with experimenting, pushing the limits of both himself and his bicycle, and drawing with the tire rubber all over the city, eventually progressing onto white-primed wooden boards.
Using MDF (medium density fibreboard) plates, white emulsion paint and rubber, Grillitsch's drawings convey a primal, almost organic sense of movement in their whipping, swirling and serpentine lines, so it's a little surprising to also know that they are done with a bicycle.
The motivation behind his works is nevertheless very down-to-earth. In an interview, Grillitsch notes that his relationship with the bike is a "love story," as he feels it gives him a feeling of freedom which he tries to transmit into his drawings. Yet his technique requires a lot of skill:
Controlling my bike in the sliding state requires a lot of practice, as the drawing itself is happening during slippery, friction-less moments I have to move my body from side to side and turn the handlebars in order to skid the marks, without crashing to the floor. So the element of control is about extending my possibilities in terms of skill and technique. And the actual drawing becomes instinctive.
All in all, this is a simple but expressive concept that's underlaid with an honest motivation, and done with impressive execution. Grillitsch's Velodrawings will be up in Tony's Gallery of London until July 15. For more information, visit the artist's website.