The possibilities for a tire seem pretty limited. Yeah, everyone knows you can stick ‘em on cars. You can make a swing out of them. Throw them around during a workout. Bury them in the ground and let the kids play on them. You’re probably not thinking “I am going to take this tire and make into the most intricately beautiful work of art you’ve ever seen”.
That’s because you’re not Wim Delvoye.
Delvoye is a Belgian born artist known for his unconventional artwork. He’s the guy who made art out of used wine corks, started tattooing uhhh live pigs, and created a whole piece that shows the eight-stage process of your food being turned into poop. To say the least, his skills are many, varied, and slightly disturbing.
That makes his Pneu (‘tire’ in French) series seem pretty tame in comparison—but also, arguably one of his most stunning projects.
Delvoye turns your everyday tire into something magical entirely by hand. This guy, this artist, this absolute madman—he’s not just sending a design to a laser cutter and letting that do all the work for him. No, sir. He carves these tires or burns them with a soldering iron. By the time he’s done, the thick tire walls are decorated with intricate florals, scrolls, and arabesques. These bad boys wouldn’t look that out of place hanging on the walls at Versailles.
All of the tires he transforms have been used. It’s up to Delvoye to scrape away their past and make them look brand new. It’s a great way to show the beautiful in the utilitarian, the transformation that can take place with a little ingenuity and hard work.
In another series, Delvoye twists bike and motorcycle tires into strange geometric Mobius strips. They become snail shells, angry jaws, intricate knots. On first glance, it’s a little startling: these tires look mangled, destroyed, the wobbly unusable remnants of a bad crash. But then you keep looking. They’re not scratched, the tires aren’t blown. This is intentional. And it’s kind of disturbingly beautiful.
Sure, it’s not, y’know, functional. But it’s still a damn cool way to showcase a different side of the things we take for granted on our vehicles.