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Meet the Belgian Artist Who Makes Beautiful Sculptures From Car Parts

The automotive-inspired works are being featured in an exhibition at the Connolly store in London this month.

Eric van Hove (far left) in his Fenduq atelier Connolly

For sculptor Eric van Hove, a car engine isn’t just a utilitarian power train but a canvas for artwork.

A collection of the conceptual artist’s automotive-inspired sculptures is about to go on display at the Connolly store in London. The exhibition will include a number of beautiful hand-crafted re-creations of complex engine parts, as well as a working electric moped.

Like his parents, van Hove identifies as Belgian, but he’s nothing if not international. Born in Algeria, he was raised in Cameroon, educated in Japan and currently lives in Marrakesh, Morocco. He started making sculptures of auto parts at his atelier, Fenduq, over a decade ago, but the seed for the artist’s work was first planted in 2002, when engineer Abdeslam Laraki introduced a supercar that would be fully made in Morocco, except for its Mercedes-Benz–sourced V-12. Van Hove didn’t understand why the mill couldn’t be assembled in a country that is home to so many talented craftspeople. Since then he has tried to shine a spotlight on Morocco-based artisans’ work, teaming up with them to recreate car engine parts from a variety of materials, including wood, metal and gemstones.

"Claas Jaguar fuel filter assembly," 2020
Claas Jaguar fuel filter assembly, 2020 Connolly

“I think craftsmanship is something extremely precious that’s been kind of left aside and not really taken seriously over the last century of industrialization,” van Hove tells Robb Report.

The exhibition at Connolly will showcase a number of pieces based on components of the twin-turbocharged V-12 in Laraki’s supercar, including its air filter, camshaft, cooling system and left cylinder head. The mix-media sculptures make use of materials as varied as silver nickel, pink apricot wood, mahogany, red marble of Agadir and cow skin. There is another piece, called the Claas Jaguar OM422 V8 Fuel Filter Assembly, which features glass-blown elements courtesy of two Swedish masters who were in Marrakesh for a residency. Each sculpture comes in a custom box engraved with the name of every artisan who worked on it.

"Mahjouba IV," 2022
Mahjouba IV,2022 Connolly

The clear highlight of the show, though, is Mahjouba IV. The exhibition’s largest-scale work is a functional electric moped that will go on view for the first time. It’s the fourth prototype of a project van Hove began in 2016 (the first was nominated for the Beazley Prize at the Design Museum and is part of the permanent collection of the Fries Museum in the Netherlands). Van Hove and the Fenduq team are working on the fifth iteration now. The artist believes the moped, which could be complete by next year, may be built in Morocco and sold at a competitive price of around $2,000.

“We [will] end with the fifth one—which is a lucky number in the Arab world—and that will be the one that hits the street,” van Hove says.

Interested in seeing van Hove’s sculptures in person? The pieces are on display at Connolly on Clifford Street in London’s Mayfair from Wednesday, Feb. 22, until Sunday, April 16. The artwork will be for sale, with 10 percent of proceeds going to MAMMA Collective, a charity selected by van Hove that maintains and researches late-20th-century architecture in Morocco.

Click here for more photos of Eric van Hove’s mixed-media auto part sculptures.


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