For me, the portrait series is the backbone of the exhibition.
Fourteen unique artworks, each one measuring 80 x 30 x 4cm, with a resin coating giving them an incredible sheen, and featuring Tour legends from the 50s, 60s and 70s, the portrait series places a strong emphasis on the triptych as composition; the single entity, as a fusion of three connected elements; folklore into theology; the untouchables; altar paintings, in a world of repurposed devotion.
You can see two of the pieces alongside, featuring Eddy Merckx and Tom Simpson.
Eddy Merckx : 149 coureurs et Merckx
Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx (born 17 June 1945). Also known as ‘The Cannibal’.
Eddy Merckx’s favourite artist is René Magritte. In 1937, Magritte painted ‘La reproduction interdite’ [reproduction forbidden] – a label which could equally apply to Merckx. His racing achievements are unique. This epithet all the more poignant when taking into account Merckx’s cardiogram results during his golden years, which ostensibly indicated he rode with a heart condition. Under today’s health guidelines, Merckx would not be allowed to race. "There are no symptoms, but there was a risk of sudden death. Eddy Merckx rode his entire career with the sword of Damocles over his head", states Italian cardiologist Dr. Giancarlo Lavezzaro, having been asked in 1968 to examine Merckx. (Eddy Merckx: the Cannibal, by Daniel Friebe, 2012). Merckx is the only cyclist to have won the General, Points and Mountains Classification in the same Tour de France (1969), and was winner of the General Classification five times – 1969-1972, 1974, King of the Mountains 1969, 1970, Points Classification 1969, 1971, 1972. He had 34 career Tour stage victories.
Simpsonissimo! Tom Simpson (30 November 1937–13 July 1967)
Near the summit of Mont Ventoux, set back from the road, sits a marble slab. The inscription on its surface reads: A la memoire de Tom Simpson, Medaille Olympique, Champion du monde, Ambassadeur Sportif Britannique Décédé Le 13 Juillet (Tour de France 1967) Ses amis cyclistes de Grande Bretagne
Nicknamed "Major Tom", Simpson was the first British cyclist to taste success on mainland Europe. In 1962 he became the first Briton to wear the maillot jaune (Stage 12). Simpson rode the 1965 Tour in the World Road Champion’s jersey. On 12 July 1967, Peugeot mechanic Harry Hall finished fitting the gears on Simpon’s bike, writing in his Tour notebook ‘Ventoux: 14/15/17/19/22/23. Rest OK.’ At 5.40 the following day, Simson’s death was announced to the Tour press room, by race co-organiser, Félix Lévitan.
Below we have included the portraits of Louison Bobet and Felice Gimondi. You can view the full range via the exhibition homepage here