Classic Automotive Art-on-Leather creations, carved and painted

Classic Automotive Art-on-Leather creations, carved and painted

Alan Dent - artist extraordinaire with his innovative special talent of carving his art into leather has added a full range of automotive subjects to his artistic offerings including Family cars, Race cars, Off-road, Super cars, Classics and Formula 1

Alan Dent, with nearly 40 years of experience, achieving numerous successes for his work both locally and internationally over the years, is the only known artist in South Africa to work in leather - meaning that he models all the details of his subjects into cowhide leather and then colours them with artist acrylic paints, offering both unpainted leather and fully painted options. In recent years Alan has added the automotive category to his portfolio of subjects.

Why his work is so unique is that through the 3D effects that he creates that another human sense, i.e. that of touch which is uniquely incorporated into each piece of work in addition to that of sight. This quite literally doubles the viewers pleasure in the enjoyment of the work.

Alan came across the carving and modelling of leather during a visit to the South West region of the United States in 1980, where he came into contact with the traditional leather gear as used by the cowhands on the cattle ranches. These hand tooled articles such as saddles, belts, holsters and boots often incorporated the Spanish style of decorative scrolls, oak leaves and numerous other imagery that had originated in Mexico.

Upon his return he arranged to import the range of tools required to perform the various modelling steps and the instruction manuals of the great leather carving legends such as Al Stohlman and Paul Burnett. After he had learned the basics and produced many leather-based articles, he was eventually drawn towards the production of carved leather pictorials.

Art-on-leather means that the subjects and all their fine details such as the horns, tusks, trunks, muscles and even skin texture are carved and modelled into the leather. This particular aspect of the process provided him with considerable early challenges to transform the two-dimensional leather surface into a truly lifelike replica of the subject. The analogy is that the result is somewhere between normal art on canvas and a sculpture.

Besides the high cost of imported cowhide it is probably for this fact that there are so few practitioners working in this art form - it literally took Alan years to perfect the modelling process - especially the requirement to accurately recreate the fine details of the wide variety of subjects such as the eyes, trunks, horns, skin etc. The one comment often associated with the pieces that Alan produces are the exceptional and lifelike depth that they project.

Alan went onto creating many great wildlife pieces featuring all the popular animals with his work exhibited in some of our leading lodges and sold to overseas clients from as far afield as Europe, America and Australia. In addition, he has exhibited his African wildlife works at an exhibition in Las Vegas where a number of works were sold.

Over the years, and quite often at the request of clients, Alan expanded his range of subjects to include aircraft, sporting icons, Nelson Mandela, birds, portraits and automotive.

After creating a number of car works, the bug really bit him and he added a full range of automotive subjects to his portfolio including race cars, classics, Formula One, Supercars, Off-road and portraits of motoring legends such as Enzo Ferrari, Ayrton Senna and Carrol Shelby. This resulted in dozens of mind-blowing leather works, most of them commissioned by corporates, manufacturers, private car owners and classic collectors.      

Alan’s major objective is to produce a wide variety of collectable quality, fine art-on-leather for the discerning admirer looking for art that is different, unique and that is capable of providing ongoing pleasure due to their propensity to become interesting conversation pieces.

Alan maintains a variety of works on various subjects for exhibition purposes, these are also available for purchase or he may be commissioned to create specific pieces for clients of virtually any subject.

Comments on Alan Dent’s Motor Car Art

Someone who has a unique artistic talent - and I mean unique, is Alan Dent. With his specialized art style, he virtually brings your car or aircraft to life. It is all done in lifelike 3D relief on imported cowhide leather. You can actually see, feel and touch all the features of your vehicle due to the modelling of the leather. When you see some of his more than 100 works of art you will be blown away. At the 2018 Concours South Africa event, Rory Byrne, the famous South African designer of Ferrari Formula 1 cars was in attendance and saw Alan’s finished work of a Concours winning Ferrari F40. Rory stood there absolutely gobsmacked and just said “WOW - perfection.” On the request of the owner he then signed the artwork.- Roger Mc Cleery – Motor Racing Commentator and Journalist

As an avid collector I have seen many examples of automotive art over the years, but nothing has caught my attention as the remarkable style of Alan Dent. The fact that Alan’s works employ touch as well as sight in the enjoyment of his art, is a tremendous feature I have never seen previously. We are extremely keen to cultivate a long-term relationship with Alan, as we feel his unique art medium can only enhance and benefit Concours S A and our related events, going forward”. - Paul KENNARD, CONCOURS South Africa.

I must say I was totally delighted when I received the finished work (of my Zakspeed Escort). Alan’s use of light and shade gave a truly authentic look to the piece. One of the most satisfying aspects of the work is that friends, acquaintances and relatives all enjoy the look and feel of the art and it always proves to be a stimulating conversation piece. I would recommend his work to any car enthusiast who requires a bone fide replica of their favourite automobile. - Lance Vogel, Goodwood Festival of Speed participant, 2018.

Thank you so much for the great images attached - I have been privileged enough to see one of your art pieces (a commission for WesBank Pretoria,) and it definitely is a complete masterpiece and collector’s item. - Michelle Davis, Head of MARKETING, WESBANK

I came across Alan Dent’s artwork while viewing the “Ignition” TV show and decided to commission a work of my recently acquired Jaguar E-Pace. The artwork is in the centre of my study and is surrounded by about 60 scale model cars from many different manufacturers. The work immediately catches the attention of visiting family and friends as they walk past the study, with everyone admiring this masterpiece. My wife even 'brags' about our investment to all her visiting lady friends, who all admire the quality and craftsmanship of the piece. I can recommend this form of fine art to every enthusiast of art featuring motor vehicles. -  Kobus Venter, Pretoria

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