Artist Anthony James Discusses His Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix Sculptures
British-American artist Anthony James unveils a new installation crafted specially for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Presented together with the Opera Gallery, the sculptures titled Repose/Reimagined showcase the artist’s knack for merging light and matter. The new installation is part of the fanfare surrounding the 2022 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Repose/Reimagined features two car sculptures – an ode to everyone’s long-awaited race car action – and a series of mesmerising light sculptures. Situated at ION Orchard and JW Marriott Hotel South Beach, these sculptures stand pertinent in their respective locations — a world-renowned mall at the heart of the city; and a luxury hotel that sits right by the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Those familiar with the works of Anthony James will identify his monumental approach to experiential sculptures and installations. Based in Los Angeles, the artist’s work gestures towards the theatricality of minimalism and formalism. If anything his work visually demonstrates the colossally vast and the infinitesimally small — the cosmos and the divinity inside oneself.
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Thus far his public installations include transforming the Flannels Flagship specialty store on Oxford Street in London, England, into a public art piece. Constellations were installed across 36 digital canvases over three stories, using 33 million LED lights wrapped around the shop’s exterior in a powerful and illuminating display.
In 2005, he debuted The Birch Series in New York City. Consisting of several variously sized, vertical light boxes with young birch tree trunks inside, the sculpture series references the containment and simulation of nature. He is also renowned for The Repose Series, a concept he created in 2020 when he purposefully set ablaze his Ferrari F355 Spider, in 1998.
The concept for that art piece mirrors the Greek concept of the “beautiful death”. Placing the burnt Ferrari in an illuminated mirror case, where the car lies between birch trunks, the art piece serves as a contemporary sacrifice, as it is the death of one of his most prized possessions.
For his 2022 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix installation, Anthony James provides a continuation or extension of Repose. Taking the idea, he has shaped it into race car bodies: the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and Bizzarrini Strada. Both serve as icons of transition, perfectly transformed and cast in copper and aluminium.
In “Reimagined”, James has crafted light sculptures that boast temporal and spatial complexities. Through its geometric shapes, the pieces combine cutting-edge techniques and concepts of Euclidian geometry. With his own visual language of light, “Reimagined” prompts admirers to dive right into his world of infinite mirrored precision and futuristic paragons.
In this exclusive interview with Augustman, Anthony James reveals more about his art form, his latest installation for the Formula 1 Grand Prix Singapore and why he is installing a sculpture in Antarctica this fall.
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Congratulations on your new art installations. What are your thoughts on being asked to collaborate on such a venture for this Formula 1 race?
I’ve always loved Formula 1, so collaborating with ION Orchard and JW Marriot Hotel South Beach in the heart of the city, right next to the Marina Bay Street Circuit, is a fantastic opportunity.
Your sculptures evoke a sense of light and speed. Is this a theme dedicated to the iconic night race?
I’ve been making artwork using light, space, and cars my entire career as an artist. It’s not dedicated; it’s always been in my practice. However, it is a perfect match. The idea of the lights and the ambiance are reminiscent of the iconic nature of my work and the iconic character of the night race have apparent similarities.
As a car fan, I am drawn immensely towards ‘Repose,’ which utilises the shapes of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and Bizzarrini Strada. Why were these race cars specifically chosen as your muse for this vision?
I’ve always had an affinity for the most iconic cars with huge race history. Giotto Bizzarini started as a test driver and later became Ferrari’s chief engineer; his masterpiece at Ferrari was the 1962 250 GTO. I wanted to incorporate a couple of iconic cars that encompass this legacy.
And ‘Reimagined’ sees you taking a geometric approach to bring this piece to life. Singapore seems to be the perfect place to display these art pieces due to its modern cityscape, do you agree?
Yes, it’s a delight to display in Singapore with its world-leading commitment to public interactive and technology-based art.
How long did it take to create both these sculptures?
It’s a prolonged and precise process using vanguard techniques such as hand hammering metal sheets; although I started this project ten years ago, I’ve only produced four car sculptures.
What do you hope people take away from them?
I hope people take away tremendous respect for these legendary vehicles and an appreciation for their functionality and physical beauty.
Moving on from Formula 1, I understand you will also install a sculpture in Antarctica later this year. Can you share about this upcoming project?
I’m genuinely excited about installing artwork in Antarctica; it will be installed within a pod that acts as a gallery. I often use high technology in my practice, and the pod is inspired by technology developed for space exploration, so this is an excellent backdrop for the artwork.
What serves as the inspiration behind this upcoming installation?
The starting point was a conversation with White Desert, the company that organises trips to Antarctica, to turn an idea into a reality in such a unique way that it is the first of its kind.
The unveiling of this installation for you as an artist, having your works on all seven continents. How does that make you feel?
When I started in the art world, I never thought that would be possible; I love the idea of unity and having my artwork on all corners of the globe represents the universal language of art.
Find out more about Anthony James here.
(Images: Opera Gallery/Anthony James)