Bunti's Picture Show - Ian Ward
An exhibition of futuristic dream cars 1958 – 1963, original drawings & recent paintings by Ian Ward
Private View: Friday 7th September 6:30pm
Exhibition: Sat 8th September – Sat 29th September 2012, Mon – Sat, 12 – 6pm
Ian Leslie Ward was born in 1942, a time of war and upheaval. Growing up in a Britain locked down for decades with the restrictions of rationing. His love affair with car styling was ignited when his father Leslie gave him an Ian Allan book ‘The ABC of British cars’. He soon became infatuated by the iconic ‘Space Age’ influenced American car designs that emerged in the mid 1950’s. These heavily stylized automobiles exuded opulent luxury, the wanton aspirations of Hollywood glamour and of a sheer splendour at odds with a monochrome suburban Britain, still in recovery from the war.
Ian’s series of futuristic car drawings were created between 1958 and 1963 whilst working in accounts for the Borough Treasurer at Watford Town Hall. Totally untrained as an artist, and never before exhibited, the work shows an adept draftsmanship whilst revealing a desire for a life less ordinary, an escape from a stifling job locked behind files and copy machines, and from life at home with his parents.
Early renderings of American saloon cars and limousines soon morph into customized streamline Hot Rods that then evolve into a series of evermore baroque extravaganzas, with a profusion of curlicues, baubles, bells and horns. As the years progress his cars expand further into massive architectural pavilion like structures featuring Doric columns, chandeliers, elaborate umbrella tables, stylized sofas, vases of fantastic flowers, pagodas and fountains. Like exotic operatic sets or carnival floats these finely detailed dream vessels become such abstractions that the only symbolic reminder of their former automotive selves is the micro thin chassis, tiny wheels, and an antique starting handle which remain.
The imagination employed by Ian develops further still, and by 1963 the cars have become complex psychedelic star ships, detailed with obsessive kaleidoscopic patterns reminiscent of Louis Wain’s later period cat paintings, predating LSD inspired poster imagery by several years.
The metamorphosis from Ian to Eon Ward which began in the 1980's continues. His flamboyant dream machines will be exhibited alongside recent paintings of toy characters and other imaginative pictures, in his first solo exhibition now in his current persona, 'Bunti'.
The Horse Hospital would like to thank Cathy Ward for organising and securing funding for this exhibition. Her article "Transport to the Landscape Exoticus: The Dream Machines of Ian Ward" will appear in the December issue of Raw Vision Magazine.
The exhibition is assisted by a grant from The Elephant Trust
Image: Afternoon on La Grande Jatte