The artistic approach to defence products
The defence and aerospace sector is habitually used to photography, computer-generated imagery and traditional art forms. This collaboration brings together Swedish engineering and British artistry, capturing the aesthetics of both the technological and functional design attributes, as well as the company's heritage.
The beauty of a company like Saab is that it represents many things to many people. For some a symbol of Swedish independence, personified in the company's pedigree as a fighter jet manufacturer, and for others as an example of open collaboration with other countries; building Gripen E fighters in Brazil, or the 35% of the value of a Gripen's content coming from the United Kingdom. Inescapably some still reminisce about the automotive history that, for a company founded in 1937 as an aerospace and defence company, had a limited lifespan within our history. (Saab automobiles from 1948-2000 after which General Motors took over).
It has been, therefore, very important to accurately and sensitively capture both the corporate and product identity of Saab in the UK.
Harnessing Saab's heritage
From our beginnings in 1937, Saab has proven itself as an industry leader. Today our aerospace pedigree features the construction of over 3,200 fighter aircraft, including the iconic Gripen, Viggen and Draken. Our electronic warfare and self-protection systems have helped keep Royal Air Force pilots safe in Harriers, Tornados and Typhoons, whilst our Gripen supply chain supports thousands of British jobs. Our commitment to our relationship with the United Kingdom has stood strong for the last 40 years, and we expect it to grow. 2019 is an important year for Saab in the UK and so it was important to work with an artist that could harness our narrative; David Bent's modern clean artistic style cuts to the very essence of what Saab is about.
David Bent's approach
"When I was a young man, the most 'edgy' and iconic aircraft in the sky was the Saab Draken (Dragon). It was the height of design sophistication for its time, both beautiful and powerful. Then came the Viggen (Thunderbolt), the most advanced fighter in Europe before the Tornado, and now the brilliant Gripen (Griffin), so when Saab asked me to collaborate with them to create an art collection, I jumped at the chance. Just the names of these extraordinary aircraft are inspiring, conjuring up vivid images. As if it was fate my wife and partner, Carole, and I had attended the Jersey International Air Display in 2017 where we saw the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight flying these at the show, the following summer we were then sat in the Saab chalet at RIAT 2018, by their invitation, discussing a potential collaboration. Saab products are not just in the aerospace sector, and I was pleased to be able to delve into their wider product portfolio, including the A26 submarine and Visby Corvette which, whilst they do not feature in this collection, will no doubt be pieces for Saab's exciting future. Creating this first collection of 14 pieces has been a pleasure and I hope you enjoy them too."
Artwork 1 - Saab Heritage Tribute - In Sweden's national colours: Lansen, Tunnan, J21R, B18, 2000, B17, and the iconic Viggen, Gripen and Draken (in order of appearance)
Image of the artist - David Bent, in his studio
Artwork 2 - Gripen Aura - depicting the electronic warfare strengths of the Gripen