In the environs of Queenstown, NZ, an abundance of cars and trucks sport landscape inspired designs. A few of these paintings seem motivated by whimsy, but most are the result of commercial interest; the Queenstown area is a Mecca for adventure tourism and the bodies of motor vehicles are prime locations for advertizing tourist related businesses. But regardless of the motivation, the results are worth pondering.
Vehicles serve as public expressions of self, whether the personal alignment be with the powerful and passionate or the provident and prim. But the emotional component of cars, so adroitly constructed by the manufacturer, is complicated when the owner augments the image. More simply, painting a car is a refutation of the aesthetic imposed by General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes and this tiny act of defacement is worth a smile.
A landscape image on a car might announce an affinity of the owner for the outdoors and a concern for the environment. Converting the car into a planter, however, would be a more persuasive statement of ecological sensitivity. Maybe car painting is a type of magic that neutralizes the industrial/ consumer aspects of the car and transforms it miraculously into something more “natural”. This kind of magical thinking is useful for assuaging the guilt many feel for burning fossil fuels.
The irony of making landscapes portable, however, is the most interesting and smile-worthy effect. For eons human beings have deferred to the landscape – the eternal, reliable, unmovable landscape – and moved across it, always in response, conforming to its demands. How cocky then to put it on the side of a Sport Utility Vehicle and send it on errands for groceries.