Cycling as a lifestyle is nothing new. And so, it is no wonder that bicycles are also becoming objects drawing artists’ attention which often leads to exceptional collaborations between cycling brands and creators. The bicycle has found its rightful place alongside paintings, sculptures, objects and prints in one of the most famous Czech art auction houses. We are talking about the Kodl Gallery and the Festka bicycle designed by the creative duo Ondrash & Kašpárek.
The Kodl Gallery knows its stuff. This auction and exhibition house has an over-a-century-long family tradition and has worked its way to becoming perhaps the most successful auction house in the Czech Republic. Therefore, no one will be surprised that this time it has placed its focus on an object such as the bicycle. Once again, an everyday object enters the gallery, but this time not as Duchamp’s ready-made, but as a mobile painting.
The artistic duo Ondřej Konupčík (aka Ondrash) & Radim Kašpárek mainly use the technique of transferring a mixture of acrylic paints placed on the water’s surface to create abstract paintings on white canvases. This time, however, the artists focused on the frame of a bicycle, the first 3D object to which they applied this special technique. This collaboration was first presented by Festka, a manufacturer of carbon frames for road bikes, at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Two original bicycles (Festka Scalatore and Scout models) were created as part of this project. For each of them, the artists also created an original canvas. And one of these bicycles along with the accompanying painting has reached the Kodl Auction House, where it will be auctioned on 28 May at the 89th Auction under catalogue number 11, with a starting price of half a million crowns. 50% of the final bidding amount for this collector's item will go to support the non-profit organization Centrum Paraple.
Festka and its art collection
This is not Festka's first art collaboration. In the past, the Czech bike frame manufacturer has created bikes with artists such as Tomski&Polanski, Michal Škapa, Jan Kaláb and illustrator Michal Bačák.
Artist Michal Škapa, aka Tron, imprinted his style on the frame using acrylic markers and various paints. On the yellow-coloured bicycle you will find, among other things, encrypted slogans written in Pixacao (or Pichação), a specific form of graffiti that originated in Brazil in the 1960s.
The artist Jan Kaláb, also known as Point, who is another familiar name in the world of graffiti, dressed his black bicycle in bright geometric shapes typical of his style.
The special custom bike Festka Zero was created using acrylic paints by illustrators and cycling enthusiasts Tomski&Polanski (Lukáš Tomek and Ilona Polanská). "When Tomski & Polanski accepted our offer to design the frame’s visual, they came up with a theme that draws on the natural motifs of the wind in both its literal and figurative meanings. Freshness and spontaneous force that constantly changes the colours of the sky and is carried away by the clouds makes you fly like a bird and allows you to become part of the universe", states Festka management on the Desginkabinet.cz web.
Michal Bačák, who designed the carbon frame for a Thai bicycle collector, approached it as an object made from porcelain. This white bicycle painted with fine blue lines reflecting his life story cost the collector around CZK 800,000. "The hand illustration in cobalt blue is complemented by detailing in 24-carat gold. Every detail was carefully thought through and consulted with the client. The design encompasses all the important milestones in his life, from the birth of his children to his hobbies such as travelling or playing the flute and, of course, cycling," a representative of the Festka brand told DesignMag.cz.
Collaboration of artists on bikes is nothing new in the world either
Artists designing bicycles is nothing new under the sun. Damien Hirst and his butterfly-winged bicycle are probably the first that comes to mind. It is said to be the most expensive bicycle in the world, and Lance Armstrong rode it on the last stage of the Tour de France in 2009. Back then, Damien Hirst sealed hundreds of actual butterfly wings in the frame of a Trek Madone bicycle.
Lance Armstrong got the bike for his comeback after successfully overcoming cancer. He approached five other artists besides Hirst, later auctioning the bikes with the proceeds going to the Livestrong Foundation. The artists Armstrong invited were Shepard Fairey, Kaws, Yoshitomo Nara, Marc Newson and Kenny Scharf. The auction was held at Sotheby's under the title It's About The Bike LIVESTRONG auction.
For example, original bicycle designs were also created in collaboration with British fashion designer Stella McCartney. Cannondale has never shied away from ambitious and cross-industry collaborations, such as the Palace Skateboards collab for the 2020 Giro d'Italia, but the collaboration with icon McCartney is said to have garnered the most praise. Cannondale says the bikes are: a "tribute from one innovative brand to another" and represent a joint commitment to sustainability.
Cycling brings significant health benefits to people and the planet and is changing the way we move and have fun globally. Art collaborations with progressive bicycle manufacturers are therefore a natural result of the needs of contemporary society.