Self-taught Belgian artist Nicolas Cancelier has a passion for racing and race cars. Here he elaborates on his art, and his process.
– nicolas cancelier
Read our interview with Nicolas Cancelier after the jump below…
Where does your interest in cars and car racing come from?
My father was an amateur painter too, and I remember when I was young, when he was painting, he gave me a piece of wood, a brush and some oil painting and I was gone. I was about 3 or 4 years old at that time.
A few years later, when I was 12 years old, my neighbor who was mechanic took me to races at Francorchamps, Zolder, Nürburgring or Zandvoort. So, definitely the passion was there.
However, painting is not my main job, I’m actually a physical education teacher.
Your images of racing are mostly from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s…what do you like about this era of racing?
I really love the 50’s 60’s era. I think that was a time where most of the drivers were “gentlemen drivers.” They really raced for passion, not money.
Spectators were close to the track, to the drivers. You could see F1 parked on the grass…that was the paddock. And the cars were beautiful.
You’ve said, and I really like this: “There’s always something happening in a a race car – even when it’s not moving.”
A racing car is first about aerodynamics, not perfect in that era and maybe because of that – beautiful shape. Even in the pit, there are lots of movements around the car. Mechanics working on the machine, they prepare the “beast” for the fight. The monster is always ready to leap. Yes, there is always something happening in a race car even when it’s not in motion.
I read that you like to do extensive research on your subject. Can you fill me in more about this and your technique for creating your images?
Looking for a subject is a big part of my work. Often, I can spend many hours consulting lots of documents to find the right photo which will be the base of the work.
I like to read about my subject to become familiar with it, that seem to me more interesting than painting it.
I don’t think I have a specific style, it depend of the medium using…with my mixed technic, I like to be more precise, realistic, and playing with only two or three colors on colored paper. With oil, I usually paint only the subject without any background…that gives me more liberty for abstraction.
But anyway, the way I going to work will always depend of my mood. I think Andy Warhol once said: “Not having a style is a style.”
– nicolas cancelier
Your favorite racing car of all time?
It’s really difficult for a painter who likes racing cars in general to choose one favorite car. However, I can say that a GT40, Ferrari P4, 917 Porsche are really wonderful machines. The Lola T70 could be my favorite. That car is really splendid. Her shape is at the same time aggressive and feminine.
What race track or event do you like to frequent?
I go to Spa two or three times a year. I love the track and the landscape there is really magnificent. Maybe the most beautiful place in Belgium.
When I arrive there for “Spa Classic” or “Six Hours Historic” race…arriving early in a beautiful sunny morning, arround “les Combes” on the top of the circuit…no noise, almost nobody arround the track, and suddenly, far away, you hear the engines star…the sound becoming closer…close until the car runs in front of you. At this moment, you are overcome by the music of an old V8, 12, by the smell of oil…magic moment!
Another event is the Goodwood Revival. I go there every year as exhibitor (what is sometimes frustrating) where I share a booth with my Canadian artist friend Paul Chenard. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere there…it’s a real travel back in time. When you go to the Revival, you really go back to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
What are you working on now and what are your upcoming plans?
Up until now, I was only an amateur painter, but I now have a semi-pro status, and down the road, I would like to take part in more events like Le Mans Classic, Retromobile Paris…
+ Source: Nicolas Cancelier