‘Black widow’ motorcycle art at Kochi art biennale

Kochi: The black widow is the cynosure of eyes, mostly male at the beach here. Giving her competition is the Egg's Nest.

Neither related to a rare spider species nor connected to a bird, it is a couple of motorcycles on display as part of the Kochi Muziris Biennale here that have been attracting visitors at the country's first art biennale.

Named 'Black Widow,' the motorcycle painted black with spidery red veins similar to the markings on females of the poisonous spider species is one of five machines displayed by the Royal Enfield's "Art of the Motorcycle" project.

"This is part of our program which takes motorcycles as a canvas for artists participating at the Biennale to painting their expressions," Praveen Prakash Sathaye, Senior Manager, Marketing Royal Enfield told PTI.

The bikes have been provided by a Kottayam-based motorcycle dealer Jeevan Matthew, who has earned prizes at international motorbiking events for his customisations.

"I wanted to do something different and started customising the bikes. The 'Egg Shell' was actually an attempt by me to take the bullet's engine and fit it on a scooter. The resulting round shape of the vehicle looked like an egg and so it was named," said Matthew.

The 'Black Widow' motorcycle is the same that won first prize at an international event for bikers in Goa. Female black widows often exhibit various red markings on top side of the abdomen, commonly two red spots. Kochi artist, Jalaja who is exhibiting her artworks at Aspinwell Hall, a venue of the Biennale, is one of the artists who is painting a bike.

"I usually work in another material so this work is new. My work is about the crowds all over the world. Moving away from the canvas, the bike is a different medium and I see this as an extension of my work," said Jalaja.

The artist said that since the bikes are used as a means of travel from one place to another, she is happy that her work will reach a larger audience..

"We created the 'Art of the Motorcycle' about three or four years ago and the idea stemmed from the fact that the stripes on the Royal Enfield motorcycles are still handpainted," said Sathaye.

The company is one of the sponsors of the three month long mega art event, which ends in March.

"We are part of the team and we thought the best way to be a part of the art event is to provide the motorcycle as a basic platform and create unique objects out of them. The best part is that these machines are rideable," said Sathaye.

South African artist Clifford Charles is the other artist invited to paint the motorcycles. The "Art of the Motorcycle" exhibition was first shown in Delhi in 2010 as a collaboration with city-based gallery W+K and the motorcycle company.