Robin Rhode: An Expression of Joy

One renowned artist is given a 300-horsepower paintbrush and total creative freedom.

In contrast to the renowned BMW Art Car Program, where artists are commissioned to apply artwork to the car’s existing structure, South African Robin Rhode was given a car to create an interaction that was documented by filmmaker Jake Scott. Like in the BMW Art Car Program, the car acts as a catalyst for creativity but in an entirely different, transient way.

From a tower 30 feet above his canvas laid out on the floor, Rhode choreographed the movements of an all-new 2009 BMW Z4 Roadster and used a remote control device to direct when and where colored paint was sprayed onto the tires which marked the canvas.

Jake Scott, from 40 simultaneous camera angles, captured the interaction between the artist, the BMW Z4 Roadster and its driver, at Los Angeles’ Downey Studios. Rhode’s paintbrush (the BMW Z4 Roadster) and Scott’s video footage of the action will also be part of the installation at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Scott’s footage will be shown in high-definition on a 16′ x 9′ screen.

Robin Rhode has characterized his role in the project as a “creative navigator,” expressing the fun relationship between the artist, design and technological advancements.

“As an artist I am always keen to collaborate with other disciplines like dance, music and now film,” said Rhode. “I’m a pure car enthusiast. But I also liked the idea of going through childlike actions to create a painting that is a way to engage with technology and design.”

Because the car itself was not decorated, the BMW Z4 used by Rhode is not considered a true BMW Art Car. However, the passion with which the car was used as an implement of artistic expression certainly captures the spirit of the art car program.


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The new BMW Z4: Explore an expression of joy

About Robin Rhode

Robin Rhode (born Cape Town, 1976) is a South African artist based in Berlin, Germany. In 1998, he obtained a diploma in Fine Art from Technikon Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by a postgraduate program at the South African School of Film, Television and Dramatic Art in Johannesburg.

Working predominantly with everyday material like charcoal, chalk and paint, Rhode started out creating performances that are based on his own drawings of objects that he interacts with. He expanded and refined this practice into creating photography sequences and digital animations. These works are characterized by an interdisciplinary approach that brings aspects of performance, happening, drawing, film and photography together.

Rhode often returns to his native South Africa, creating work in the streets of Johannesburg and continuously registering the traces of poverty and social inequality. An outstanding characteristic of his works is his addressing of social concerns in a playful and productive manner, incorporating these issues into his practice without simplifying or judging them.