This is not what I expected to see. In my mind I pictured about 8 or 10 men hammering away at unformed sheet metal, definitely not this. One of India’s foremost automobile designers standing in front of an easel applying languid brush strokes to canvas. Brush strokes, canvas, easel? Is this the Dilip Chhabria we know? Whatever happened to his thriving modification business? Has the man finally gone the Vinod Khanna way, looking for tranquility and a change from the celebrated lifestyle?
Not really, the DC we all know still does what he does best. The compound we have just walked into has six Volvo buses parked at one end, eight Innovas at another and an assortment of other vehicles everywhere else. All of them in various states of modification. Some fully stripped of body work, others nearly complete while others still were brand new, waiting to be turned into the radical one-off creations that so often roll out of this facility. Clearly, tranquility isn’t what DC is looking for. Case in point, take a look DC’s latest on the following page.
However, today we’re here not to see DC take the wraps off a new automobile creation, but to see what he can do with a paint brush and a chisel, well, figuratively speaking. We are going to be discussing his art and what drives him to do the things he does.
Sculpted, young, and in-your-face is how the artist describes his work. All his creations are related to automobiles in some way or the other. Some are fairly obvious like the tail light inspired ‘Prism’ although others like the racing bike inspired ‘Tension’ take some serious analysis to decipher. Arrestingly vibrant colours and shapes are a standard feature of his work. “The main idea is to capture some form of an automobile in a 3x3 patch that can be hung on a wall.” Of course doing so is challenging in that it’s quite difficult to centre the art in such a small frame and also that making one piece different from the other is a constant test.
The DC Art range was launched in 2008. While automotive design is definitely an art form in itself, most car designers working for big firms find their creative ability strangled in the quest for production vehicles with mass appeal. That’s what drove DC to open his own designing firm in the first place. Now, with his new art range, DC has unleashed his entire artistic potential and is looking to offer his clients a taste of what he thinks art should be.
Like most artists, DC both paints and sculpts but what’s different about his work is the style. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else. The reason being that DC applies his knowledge and skills from his experience of working with cars to his art. Take his sculptures, for instance. A lot of the materials used are the same as he uses on his cars. The machines used to form the metal work on his cars are used to create the sculptures. There’s even a dedicated team of eight working on just the art, helping bring DC’s visions to life. The fact that his art is forged in a specialised workspace with materials and facilities that aren’t available to most folk ensures that his art is nigh on impossible to replicate or imitate.
‘Chabbrism’, is how one art valuator described his art. There are no direct links in DC’s art to the many isms of art like cubism, futurism etc. His unique style means he doesn’t have any artists whose techniques he emulates in his work. But DC does mention that he is inspired by Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol. It isn’t so much their style that catches his admiration as much as their ability to turn the seemingly normal and mundane into sheer art. For example, Warhol was famous for turning simple soup cans into works of art. This capability of transforming unassuming items from our daily lives into art forms is what captures DC’s imagination.
Intriguingly, DC describes the force that drives him to be an artist as an immediate high. When it comes to his cars, the entire process of completing a project takes a good three to four months. With the art it only takes a few days. This faster achieved joy or ‘high’ as he puts it, of having created another masterpiece, is what makes it such a pleasure. DC also explains how he’s in a win-win situation by working with both art and automobile design. His art work is constantly inspired by the work he does on cars while each piece of art he creates gives him fresh ideas that he could someday use on a car project. Doing one well only encourages him to do the other even better
One thing that catches our attention is that DC accepts that the domestic market for art isn’t that strong. But he goes on to say that our market is strikingly similar to China in the sense that China is now the global leader in art and it took them very little time to get there. India’s on a similar path and DC will be ready when we get there. That’s not to say he isn’t doing well right now. DC claims to sells three to four pieces a month worth ` 20 to 25 lakh from his showroom in Mumbai. Simple calculations should tell you that this isn’t art for the common man!
DC makes no qualms about the fact that there is an established mafia in the art industry. Every one expects a cut and if you don’t co-operate, you don’t get promoted. An artist is as good as dead if his gallery doesn’t promote him. Fortunately for DC his auto design side of business has provided him with enough capital to open his own gallery and cut out the middleman altogether. It may be expensive to do so at first but will be worth it in the long run
At the end of the day, a legacy is what DC wants. Something that will keep his name alive long after he has retired and left the game. While his auto design business has definitely put him on the right path, he firmly believes that his art will get him to the destination. His ultimate goal is to be an equally established artist, at least in terms of volume, as compared to his peers in the art world by the time he is done. Given the novel and inimitable style of his art, DC is quite confident it’s only a matter of time before he gets there.
design Innova NV
The sole purpose of our trip to the DC Design facility was to check out Dilip Chhabria’s new range of auto inspired art. Despite that, we couldn’t resist giving you the low down on his two latest creations that we spotted parked at the facility.
This Innova has a wheelbase lengthened by 13 inches and every single panel on the car including the roof has been changed.
The insides are typical DC fare with enough legroom for a football match, two ten inch screens, enough leather worth a herd of cows, a massive sunroof and a high end sound system. The extra wheelbase means that the last row of seats still exists and this car can seat 6 in complete comfort. If space, lavish comfort and bucket-loads of attention are at the top of your agenda when buying a car the DC Innova is the vehicle for you.
Amby for the Netajis
The first thing that catches your attention when you look at the DC Amby is the striking resemblance the front end bears to a Mini Cooper. The design stays true to the original Ambassador but almost every panel is new and the overall effect is a very retro-modern looking car. Changes include a 15-inch increase in overall length, 15-inch alloys and futuristic xenon and LED lighting.
However it’s the interior that really sets this car apart in a crowd. The rear has acres of room, two powered captain seats, a privacy partition, fold-out tables, rear aircon and heater, twin 7-inch monitors and a central console with all the controls and an intercom. The list doesn’t stop there. There’s complete carpeting, power curtains for the rear windscreen and more. If commissioned, this thing would definitely be a hit with the babus.