The Motorcycle Artwork of Kenji Shibata
Look back up at that ’59 Honda. Go on, Look.
That’s not a photo.
Let that sink in for a second.
I find that I tend to be of two minds on automotive art. I tend to be most drawn to either those pieces of work that come from one of two very different points of view. I love work that evokes the motion of a machine: Blurred splashes of color that are barely recognizable silhouettes of specific racing machines but with an emphasis on the frenetic movement of a high speed machine caught in a barely focused instant. But with almost equal reverence I can appreciate a meticulously detailed piece of work like these. It’s hard not to appreciate the careful study of the minutia of a racing machine. Kenji Shibata’s work is breathtakingly precise. It wasn’t until I saw this photo of his work in process that I realized I wasn’t seeing a beautifully lit studio photograph.
In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like how we all appreciate the two essences of motorsport: The high paced courage and emotion on the track itself versus the slow, careful detail work of the long hours spent in the workshop in preparation for the track. I’m sure that’s why I am so drawn to these two apparently opposing aesthetics: because together they represent the full experience of motorsport.