Pirlo: the art of (the) Fantasista

Put Niels In Goal

From the gallery wall, Andrea Pirlo looks at us with an expression of granite seriousness. His eyebrows are arched in concentrated intensity, eyes narrowed with focus, mouth set rigid and unsmiling. In Stanley Chow’s 2012 portrait Pirlo, which I first saw at the Fantasista exhibition, curated by Hotspur & Argyle in the Cello Room in Southwark, the footballer is captured with expression which he seems to wear most while on the pitch, especially before deftly dispatching one of his trademark free-kicks. In this brief article, I want to look at what Chow’s work tells us about Pirlo, about football and the artist’s relationship with it, and to make some final observations about the game and its burgeoning relationship with art.

The first thing to state is, of course, that we are dealing with an artwork. While football-inspired graphic design is perhaps not considered a cultural entity in the same…

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