Pepsi Max: The Art of Football at Victoria House
From athletic Roman statues, to collections inspired by the modern day Olympics, sport and art have long been entwined in human culture. The passion, movement and strength of sporting imagery lend itself to the freedom of artistic expression that allows the creation of powerful and memorable pieces.
Global giant Pepsi have continued their long-standing reputation of featuring world class footballers in their campaigns with a new collaboration between renowned photographer Danny Clinch, six emerging street artists and six globally-recognised footballers. In a celebration of football, art and culture, Pepsi Max’s The Art of Football, is part of the brand’s 2014 Live for Now campaign and is co-hosted by Steve Lazarides, best known for his discovery of pioneering street artist Banksy.
In six unique works the artists work upon 10ft x 10ft canvas prints of Danny Clinch’s black and white portraits of Leo Messi, Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere, David Luiz, Sergio Aguero and Sergio Ramos. Six emerging artists collaborate on the impressive works, all executed in Pespi’s trademark red, white and blue, yet each conveying its own unique style.
Photographer Danny Clinch’s statuesque portraits radiate stillness and strength amist the fluidity and movement of the artwork that surrounds them. London-based artist Hattie Stewart’s “doodle bomb” on Arsenal and England player Jack Wilshere’s portrait is cartoonish, combining a sense of youthful exuberance with a darker edge. Stewart, who rose to fame with her doodled magazine covers draws influence from a childhood of reading Dandy and Beano and the comic strip simplicity of her art makes it all the more striking. She tells us:“I’m not a street artist, I’m an illustrator – that’s why I love projects like this one, to try new things. I wanted mine to be very British, I used the roundel to recall the mod symbol; I tried to fit as many elements as possible in it but if I had to choose something it’s the circle that I actually I like the most about my work.”
Argentinian footballer Sergio Aguero’s photograph is added to by his fellow countryman, graffiti artist Jaz, whose symmetrical animal imagery accentuates the rawness in Aguero’s pose. We have a chat with Jaz who tells us more about his experience:“I’m so thrilled to be part of this street art global project. Compared with the other artists who are more abstract, I’m obsessed with technique and symmetrical images. I wanted to convey power and I had my sketch ready well before receiving the photograph; when I saw Aguero’s fist pump celebration I was over the moon.
“It’s funny because not only my Spanish friend Zosen was involved in this collaboration, but also fellow Argentinian Ever, who I share the studio with; however it was a bit of a secret so we did not talk about it. Then it came up at some point and we couldn’t believe it.”
The larger-than-life canvases dominate the basement studios of Bloomsbury’s spectacular Victoria House. It is fitting, considering their worldwide adoration, that the footballers tower over exhibition viewers in an almost godly way; none more so than Chelsea’s David Luiz, whose famed afro-style hair forms the centre point of Ricardo AKN’s piece, whose final creation features gleaming-coated rams with glossy curls not unlike Luiz’s own. David is on site and looks excited as he signs autographs and takes pictures with his fans.
The author of Van Persie’s artwork, Dutch artist Merij Hons, tells us that working with Pepsi colours wasn’t a problem for his creativity:“I work a lot with blue and red, they are primary colours, they don’t interfere with each other. I wondered what could be the main concept behind it and I decided to represent the going back and forward of a striker with ribbons. And his floating with balloons. I originally put together my vision on a black canvas, then I worked on the picture’s frame when I received it.”
This is collaboration in its purest form – between sport and art, photography and street art, monochrome and colour, classical and modern. It might be collected together in the heart of London, but the art itself doesn’t fail to identify with a more global sentiment.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Pepsi’s 2014 campaign visit here.
Watch a Q&A with some of the stars of Pepsi’s 2014 football team here: