Cars aren't like the other big things we buy in our lives. Nobody tears up when they get rid of an old refrigerator or washer, but I know non-car people who have gotten downright weepy when giving up a beloved car. Artist Donnie Molls understands this, and that fundamental understanding of the special connection people and cars have is evident in the work shown in his new show, Disposable Culture.
He's here to talk about the cars, the art, and the culture. Ask your questions in Kinja below.
Disposable Culture is currently on display in Los Angeles at the Edward Cella gallery, and I went to check it out, employing my long-comatose Art History bachelor's degree for some hardcore art-appreciating. And appreciate I did.
Molls is especially interested in the end-of-life of cars, focusing primarily on cars after their mechanical lives have ended, with is large, engaging works depicting junkyard scenes, scrapyards, junked cars, and parts of actual passed-on cars. Molls' background is firmly in the automotive world. His father was a stock and demolition derby car racer and he grew up working on cars, seeing them both built and destroyed. As a result, he employs automotive materials and techniques in his work.
His large salvage yard-scapes are photos that have been printed on auto-painted steel, then painted over. There's large mandala-like wall assemblages made of pistons, painted with glossy auto paint, their varied and sculptural combustion surfaces giving a rich visual texture to the pieces. Smaller paintings are direct photo transfers onto steel, with auto paints and enamels, and thanks to the materials used everything has an automotive feel, even if the subject matter were different.
The works have a haunting quality; the scrapyards can feel like mass graves or majestic landscapes, depending on the viewer's own mindset. A room with a colossal pile of tires similarly has a presence you wouldn't expect out of what is, basically, just a pile of tires.
This is great automotive-inspired work, a welcome change from the often maudlin and hackneyed world of car-based art. Car-based art is often looked down upon by the established art scene, so seeing something like this in a mainstream gallery is great.
We've got Donnie here in Kinja to answer some questions. Ask him whatever you'd like— he's an artist, sure, but also a car guy, so there should be plenty for us to talk about. Have at it!
The conversation is now closed. Thanks to Donnie for stopping by!