Local contemporary artist Karwai Chan has a proclivity for painting fast cars — her past subjects include the Formula 1 Lotus 98T and classic Shelby Cobra 427. But this time round, her own designs are featured on the body of one.
On Jan 19, McLaren Kuala Lumpur unveiled their GT project in collaboration with the artist. Chan was commissioned to adorn the supercar in blue and white to resemble qing hua ci, or Chinese porcelain. Inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, she combined the two ideas and the result is Ride Every Wave, which depicts cresting cobalt waves and soaring birds around the car.
She also shares in a promotional video that the waves, which encapsulate how limitless, fearless and unstoppable a McLaren GT is, took over 200 hours to complete.
Chan was offered the opportunity to display her artworks when McLaren established their KL showroom back in 2019. “The relationship with McLaren sprouted since then and we finally decided to move on to something of a larger scale to commemorate the partnership,” she says in an email interview. Ride Every Wave was on display until Jan 21.
Besides cars, the self-taught artist also enjoys painting Formula 1 drivers, celebrities and pop culture icons. “I like expressing emotions through my paintings,” she says. “Drawing these people almost feels like I’m walking through their lives and remembering their legacies. Of course, there is also more demand for iconic people.”
Chan has worked with fashion designer Jimmy Choo and Singaporean superstar JJ Lin in the past, but divulges her collaboration with British chef Gordan Ramsay to be one of her most memorable. “I was totally awestruck as I finally got to paint the master chef himself,” she gushes. “The whole process took about one month to complete.”
Hell’s Kitchen fans will be able to see her portrait of the chef hanging on the wall of Gordan Ramsay Bar & Grill, set to open in Sunway Resort in early 2022.