are cars art?

Corniche – How a Rolls Royce transformed into Buddha

Are cars art? – Basel based artist Nikolai Winter gives this question a very philosophical answer.

“Corniche” – the to date most important, not for sale piece by Basel based artist Nikolai Winter, originates from the philosophical controversy between Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and our wasteful society, striving for materialistic wealth. During a journey of more than two years, the artist transformed the Rolls Royce Corniche into a Buddha statue.

„I am a man of very simple tastes: I am always satisfied with the best.” - Osho Rajneesh [originally by Oscar Wilde]

The Indian philosopher Osho (1931 - 1990) was already provoking Western sensibilities with his Rolls Royce parades, where he ironically displayed “inner riches” and criticized the US obsession with the automobile. Nikolai Winter, in his work “Corniche”, evokes Osho’s words and engages himself in this exaggerated, formulaic tension field between modesty and the pursuit of material luxury.

It was the coincidence that Nikolai Winter was given a Rolls Royce Corniche by one of his collectors and reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse at the same time, which made the artist think of transforming the Rolls Royce into a Buddha sculpture. This provocative, powerful shattering and rework of a beautiful 1981 Rolls Royce Corniche is intended to symbolize the transformation of material wealth into spiritual riches; it also evokes Siddhartha’s escape from his father’s palace in Herman Hesse’s account. At the same time, it is the physical beginning of a two-year transmogrification of an iconic capitalist symbol into a Buddha. Backpacking through Japan and China the artist was inspired by the Great Buddha of Kamakura (“Daibutsu”) and Tian Tan Buddha located in Hong Kong. It was the artist’s aim to create a Buddha in a calm and peaceful, yet proud posture, while symbolizing the purity of the enlightened Buddha by a reflective, chromized body. In an almost austere way, the artist tracks the completion of his hand-worked sculpture, leaving only a few characteristic vehicle parts, such as the original radiator grill and “Emily” as clues to the origin of his working material. The pedestal – the only part of the work not taken from the Rolls Royce, officially evokes the famous front radiator grill. The conflict area between material riches and the spartan decision to live a monk’s life, addressed in the artist’s “Luxury Goods”, is an ongoing topic in today’s society. In a time when our civilization could hardly be more wasteful with consumable goods and yet strives for ‘sustainability’, Nikolai Winter places various luxury goods icons at the center of his work.

Rolls Royce Corniche transformed into Buddha by artist Nikolai Winter
Rolls Royce Corniche transformed into Buddha by artist Nikolai Winter
Rolls Royce Corniche transformed into Buddha by artist Nikolai Winter
Rolls Royce Corniche transformed into Buddha by artist Nikolai Winter