To celebrate Ligier's 50th anniversary, Ligier Automotive looked to mark the occasion with an ambitious project and bring the French marque into a new world. The idea of an Art Car quickly manifested itself. The constructor gave French artist Nairone Defives a unique challenge: just 24 hours to design the 50th anniversary Ligier Art Car during the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Nairone Defives is an acclaimed black and white artist. "It reassures me," he admits. Originally from Paris, he has painted frescoes and exhibited in Paris, London, San Francisco, Quebec, Portland, Brussels and Los Angeles. A French bakery called Les Gourmands is entirely dedicated to Nairone's works in San Francisco, California.
I wanted to stay true to myself, and I managed to freeze 24 hours of my life on a car for all eternity.
Defives created his work of art on the carbon chassis of the Ligier JS P4, a canvas quite different from those he typically uses. "Between the length of the car (4,680 mm, Ed.) and Ligier's history, I had a lot to work with. The lines and curves of the prototype were interesting because they allowed me to represent a global atmosphere on the entire car," explains the artist. Decorating an Art Car in 24 hours was a huge challenge. "I had done about a dozen sketches but none really challenged me. I finally found inspiration at four in the morning the day before." On Saturday 15 June at 15:00, as the start was given at the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the artist began his performance. "Over 24 hours, I took a few sandwich breaks but no naps. I got really tired late Sunday morning. I thought of the drivers going by at full speed and it kept me awake. Spectators congratulated me and wished me good luck. Some came regularly to check out my progress."
Defives explains what he wanted to express with his pencil and paintbrush: "I was inspired by Ligier's history and spent time looking through the marque's archives. I wanted to give a sense of speed even when the car isn't moving. As if it was going fast in a drawing, there is a lot of content in the front and it is more refined at the back. I wanted to stay true to myself, and I managed to freeze 24 hours of my life on a car for all eternity. I am proud of the design."
He sees a parallel between his performance and that of a driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: "He can be proud of his race despite anything unforseeable. I am happy with my performance even though there are imperfections. I find mistakes beautiful."
By coming to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nairone Defives discovered an artistically inspirational universe. "I am fascinated by the drivers and their capabilities. I have enormous respect for them. Before the start, as I was watching the Patrouille de France and the Army helicopter, the massive scale of the event hit me. I went to see the cars racing at dawn. It was calm and made it seem every one was deeply focused. There was a kind of bubble around the circuit, as if we were in another space-time. I will be back," said the artist.
The Ligier JS P4 Art Car of Ligier Automotive designed by Nairone Defives will be on display this weekend at the Bugatti circuit for the 12th edition of Classic Days.
PHOTO: The Ligier JS P4 Art Car created by French artist Nairone Defives for the 50th anniversary of Ligier during the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.