Ichwan Noor is a Yogyakarta-based artist famous for his life-size sculptures of hybrid shapes between human, animal and technology.A graduate of the School of Visual Art at the Indonesia Institute of the Arts (ISI) in Yogyakarta, and a professor of Fine Arts at Yogyakarta University, Noor works mainly with bronze, aluminium and resin. He is called 'The Maker', a nickname he earned by mentoring other artists and sharing his knowledge of the world of materials with them.In 2011 he began what is his best-known series, the Beetle sphere, the protagonist is the 1953 Volkswagen Beetle that is compacted into a new form.
The original design of the car was supposedly based on a sketch by Adolf Hitler, or at any rate it was he who commissioned Porsche to design a car for the average German family that had a fuel consumption of no more than 7 litres per 100 km, was air-cooled, could reach and maintain a speed of 100 km/h for long journeys and cost no more than 1,000 marks. Although it was a big challenge at the time, in 1934 Ferdinand Porsche presented three Beetle prototypes, a cabriolet and two saloons.In 1939, the first Beetle was officially unveiled at the Berlin motor show, which was then mass-produced for the next forty-one years and became one of the most iconic cars ever.Noor's work responds to this rich political history by deforming the object into a sphere composed of original car parts.To avoid the damage he would have incurred if he had started from a real car, Noor sculpted a polyurethane replica of the body and then cast it in aluminium. He then made a separate interior to follow its shape, which was integrated into the exterior of the work.
Noor has always explored the theme of transport; moving objects and figures are the focus of his work. For example with Traveller, in 2008, a pair of human legs fused with roller skates, or Playwood, in 2015, a formula one driver inside his all-wood car, and Pegasus, in 2011, a horse with aeroplane wings.These sculptures are the result of the artist's interest in combining the artificial and the natural, projects in which human or animal forms are combined with technological components.
In 2011, Noor was invited to the group exhibition Art Motoring: Motion and Reflection at the Indonesian National Gallery in Jakarta. This exhibition combines forty-five vintage cars with eighty-five works by contemporary Indonesian artists. It is here that Noor presents 'the beetle box', his first work in the Volkswagen Beetle series.Describing the series, Noor notes in an interview that his dramatic transformations of these iconic forms encourage the public to see reality in a different way.He says: "The idea came from a personal perception towards objects produced by 'transport culture'. To see a vehicle is to assign it a "magical" (supernatural) identity. When manipulation and substitution techniques are combined, the result tends towards realistic distortion, which allows new interpretations of the object (car), creating an associative meaning."The journalist then asks to explain further what magical identity is to him and Noor replies as follows:"There are always traces of the human in objects that have close relationships with humans. I do not mean 'automatism' but simply a projection of consciousness. I see this as more than just the adoration of an object because of the nostalgia it evokes, like heirlooms."