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    BMW’s 11th #Art-Cars / #BMW-Art-Cars is unique for two reasons: it’s the only Roadster to be a canvas and is the only one painted by a German artist.

    You could argue that neither the artist of this month’s Art Car, A R Penck, nor the car itself fit into a particular system, they’re both non-conformists. This is certainly demonstrated by the artist painting his secret language on the Z1 Roadster, which is mainly comprised of symbols, forms and archaic-looking shapes that call out to be decoded.

    A R Penck was born as Ralf Winkler in Dresden in 1939. At the early age of 17, the self-taught artist had already held his first exhibition. In the years to follow, Penck devoted most of his time to studying the works of Picasso, Rembrandt and prehistoric cave paintings, the latter of which, in 1960/’61, was to result in the famous silhouetted ‘Matchstick Man’. The study of mathematics, cybernetics and physics increased his knowledge of pictorial language and Penck’s works soon became internationally acclaimed. They are now exhibited in museums throughout Europe, Japan and the USA.

    To Penck, the BMW Z1 is already a “work of art”, worthy of the term #BMW-Art-Car , as it already reflects the creativity and imagination of its designers and engineers. “Art-on-art and art-on-technology… that interested me, especially art on a three-dimensional object,” he commented. Penck became inspired by technical design, and challenging it with his own cosmos and sign language. In its simplicity it’s reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings but it is, nonetheless, a challenge to the observer, as the figures and signs resulting from a long process of abstraction are codes that have to be deciphered.

    The Z1 was commissioned shortly after German reunification and as the first German artist he paints an Art Car with little reference to the car itself and with a lot of irony: “I have only been a passenger in a car for many years and I have only ever been a passenger in a BMW!” he said.

    Penck’s work has always been provoking so it was perhaps only natural that his way to get himself in the mood to paint the Z1 raised a few eyebrows. He did this by playing the drums just before painting the car to feel the vibration and then he painted the car with thick black paint in around 15 minutes.

    “Every artist is like a general who knows his battle order and has his soldiers on call to be used as needed. In the old days artists painted the sun but today everything is a bit more abstract,” said Penck. “The interesting thing about a work of art is not what it actually shows but first that it is shown and then how it is shown – you need to assume that you can think anything about it.” That’s one of the wonderful things about Penck’s Z1 – the car presents you with more riddles than answers and as for the hidden meanings, Penck leaves that to your own imagination…
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