Piaggio Museum | Pontedera, Italy
From the 29th of September to the 15th of November 2018
The Vespa. An international icon of Italian style and design. A symbol of the economic boom in the 1950s. The Vespa is more than just a method of transportation. For decades the scooters have been ubiquitous on Italian streets, ever since they began being manufactured by a company named Piaggio in Pontedera near Pisa.
Now, artist Jeremy Fish is making Vespas, and several other classic vehicles, the subject of his latest solo exhibition. Held at the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera, the site of the original Vespa factory, the exhibition displays 12 pictorial works that interpret the “animal spirit” of some of the most representative historical vehicles exhibited at the museum: Vespa, Ape, Porter, and mopeds are depicted on paper and brought to live in imaginative and inventive ways thanks to the mastery of one of the most creative and critically-acclaimed contemporary artists worldwide.
Fish, illustrator and skater, is considered one of the most influential figures in the underground culture of San Francisco, during a time when the city, notably the Lower Haight neighbourhood where he moved to in 1994, was the international epicentre of the psychedelic revolution. He lives in North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian district. A wide range of experiences come together in his art, from academic training, the decoration of skateboards, to collaborations with artists on the hip-hop scene.
Running from September 29th to November 15, 2018, the exhibition is a continuation of his ‘Spirit Animals’ work, which began at the Jonathan Levine Gallery, New Jersey in summer 2017.
The large drawings explore the emotional relationship between human beings and their vehicles. For many, vehicles are kinds of pets, or even superior human beings. Possessing both raw mechanical power and huge sentimental value, scooters and cars are complex objects. Fish explores how they can act as extensions of the body or soul.
Inspired by some of the museum’s collection, Fish makes motorcycles come to life, as winged beasts, symbolic animals, or even as Salvador Dalí, in a playful and thoughtful rumination on the nature of motorised travel.
The exhibition forms part of the International Robotics Festival 2018 in Pisa, which runs from September 27th to October 3rd. It is fitting that Fish’s pictures are included amongst discussions on the future of robotics; his thought-provoking work prompts questions of whether vehicles are just machines or something more.