Long hauls to the mountains can get boring. More often than not, any beautiful landscape outside the car window is blocked by a huge serving of McDonald’s fries plastered on the side of a semi-truck. Now, a new project in Spain is transforming these eyesores into something people will actually want to look at. For the Truck Art Project, some of Spain’s best contemporary artists are partnering with commercial shipping company Palibex to convert 100 out-of-service trucks into moving canvases. The project launched with 10 trucks this February, with plans to introduce more this year.
Photo: One of the trucks designed and painted by the Madrid-based artist Okuda San Miguel. San Miguel started as a street artist and gained a quick following for his style of multicolored geometric structures, which he calls pop surrealism.
The other side of San Miguel’s truck features a colorful landscape scene. Some of the trucks will feature art on the inside, acting as mobile galleries for a handful of the artists.
Going into the project, San Miguel was inspired by the truck’s very horizontal format to develop a scene involving a body lying in a landscape. Only when he started painting did he decide to add a series of faces on the other side, to make it seem as if the art was staring at the passing viewers.
The artist known as Suso33 works on one side of his truck. Since he has experience painting larger murals and backdrops for operas, Suso33 was comfortable with the massive scale of the canvases on the truck.
Suso33, like many of the other artists, was drawn to the project in part due to the sheer randomness of how someone would come across his piece while on the road. Later this year, the Truck Art Project will release an app allowing anyone to track the trucks for a chance at a sighting.
Artist Marina Vargas works on the early stages of her truck design. She focuses heavily on exploring the meaning of religious or magical symbols, and her artwork often involves organic elements like blood and veins.
Vargas’s final piece incorporates a heart and arteries along with several references to religion and the military. The artist says that the heart and veins concept was inspired by the thought of the truck’s engine pumping gas.
Artist Javier Calleja is primarily a drawer and painter, so he didn’t have prior experience painting on a larger scale and found it difficult adjusting to the use of spray cans. The eyes and hands seen on his truck are a common theme within many of his works.
Calleja’s approach to this project was for the piece to be very simple, since onlookers will only have a few seconds to view it as they are driving by.
Artist Daniel Muñoz switches between drawing and creating murals in his everyday work. His truck highlights the intersection of those skills; the enamel painting appears like a pencil drawing from afar, but features tons of details and fine lines as you get closer to the work.
Based on photographs Muñoz took in Cuba, the work features a set of blank billboards in an open landscape. Muñoz explains that the work is a play on the idea of trucks as a symbol of capitalism and the goods they’re transporting—the billboards are a commercial element painted on another commercial element as it moves through barren landscapes.