The Tour Turned Upside Down

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The 2020 Tour de France has been like no other tour in history. In the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic riders, support staff, photographers, journalist and fans have been put in the position of possibly risking their lives to participate or watch the tour live in France. Testing, bubbles, masks, social distancing are all additional factors the tour teams and fans are dealing with. But the Tour was granted permission and the 107th edition of the Tour de France launched on August 29, 2020.

The new normal isn’t normal.

When I set out to find an image to express my feelings and capture this year’s tour, the first I’ve missed in person in three years, the idea of chaos was my first thought. A world turned upside down with nothing in its right place. My first drawings revolved around the idea of nothing was normal. Cows in the sky, riders upside down, masks on spectators. The obvious images that are the tour but somehow not in the right place. The idea was right but the image was complicated. So I kept digging for something simple, something that was a single image to say it all.

Edit. Edit. Edit.

When I started painting “The Tour Turned Upside Down” I over painted the image three times, not something I do very ofter. Looking for what I thought was the strongest, simplest image I just kept repainting. Sometimes the work is in taking away things you don’t need. Where I landed may be one of my strongest images to date. The Eiffel Tower, the iconic image of France turned upside down. I hadn’t seen this before, it was new, it was exciting, simple and memorable. I’d say all the things you want in an image to sum up the greatest sporting event on the planet gone off it’s center. Covid-19 has plunged the world into new thinking and acting. We’ll never be the same again, the fear will linger, the uneasy memory of the world being put on hold will always be in the back of our minds every time someone behind you sneezes. An uneasy feeling to say the least.

Fall Forward.

A very smart, talented artist, writer friend said that to me one day, “Fall Forward”. It stuck. It has been a mantra for my life that I believe is true for all of us. As we fall forward into our new post pandemic world it will never leave us completely. So we move on. This painting “The Tour Turned Upside Down” is for sale. It’s asking price is higher than any of my other paintings, and it should be. It has a unique place in history, mine, yours and the worlds. The new owner, if there ever is one, will understand that and the price will mean very little to the value of the image and the history it represents.

The world during 2020 has been set on its head and with luck I will continue to create Tour de France images for many years to come, and with all my heart I hope I never have to paint an image like this again.

Vive le Tour.

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Michael Valenti is "The Veloist" - He is an avid cyclist and artist known for his Cycling Art work. Each year Michael chases the Pro Peloton at the Tour de France and other major cycling events. He is available for event and corporate cycling related projects as well as personal commissions for art.

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