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The art of football

Every FIFA World Cup, former indian football star and artist Yolanda de Sousa combines her two greatest passions- art and football, for an interesting art series. Her latest ‘Mundial 2018’ has over 40 works that depict players, coaches, and more at this years grand football tournament that ends this Sunday

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Yolanda de Sousa had an illustrious career in football till 1981, scoring a hat-trick for the country and being awarded Player of the Decade in 1980. And though she has excelled as an artist since then, she has never been able to get football out of her system. The proof: every four years, Yolanda makes sure to catch all the FIFA World Cup matches. And not just that, she dives right in to express the emotions, feelings, success, quirks, hairstyles and more seen on the field through her art.

This year through her series titled ‘Mundial 2018’, Yolanda has given expression to her passion on canvas and digital medium. Her paintings are a kind of commentary of the game. It is always that special player, or a special moment of the match- not always serious, Yolanda says, as she likes to see the funny side of the game as well. This time there’s Ronaldo, Messi, Neymer with his changing hairdo, Thegerman, Coach Joaquim Loew and of course Luis Suarez!  Yolanda has managed as many as 40 paintings this time around having covered the games right from the start, and says it’s a blessing as otherwise Germany, Portugal, Argentina for example would not feature in the paintings as they were knocked out early.

Most of the works this time are digitally made and that’s the reason there are so many works. “There’s this app where I can watch the match and capture the moment as fast as I see it, drawing with my finger directly on the screen. So I don’t need an easel, canvas, paints brushes et al which would be a disturbance to my watching and that of others. It’s an all in one programme,” she says before adding that the only trouble is the network issue which delays the process, driving her insane as the brush doesn’t move.

Talking about football being a fascination to her she says that there is no exact reason for it. “I just know that I love the game as every true Goan does; it’s an inborn love. I first heard World Cup commentary in 1966 on a radio at my uncle’s house, screaming with the boys for Portugal and the incredible Eusebio! I played with my brother and his friends and when football happened in India I dropped every other game for this beautiful game,” she recalls vividly. Yolanda went on to play for the country and event represented India at the world cup. As she gathers her thoughts, she says that she loved football before she played it, loved it as she played it and continues to love football as she watches and records happenings on the field on her canvas, the joy that can’t get any better.

Her energy during FIFA World Cup is as exhilarating as her art and to Yolanda it comes at ease sans any stress. The world she says waits for this moment every four long years, and when it comes all hell breaks loose. “Looking at the energy on the field I guess my mental energy exhilarates and thoughts flow on the canvas as there’s a great feed of creative possibilities watching the happenings on the field,” she says.

Her first tryst with capturing the world cup on canvas happened during the 2002 World Cup in Korea when she had opted for voluntary retirement to concentrate on her art.  “I was at home and able to watch the matches at leisure… and then as I was watching them I felt something missing and it was not to do with my feet, it was to do with my hands, I just felt that urge to capture what I saw and then ofcourse the players at that time were incredible. Every team had more than a star so there was plenty to paint,” she recalls. There was the Brazilian Ronaldo, Rolandinho, etc. Though she never exhibited the works then, each one found a buyer from all parts of the world which clearly shows worldwide fascination to football.

And now that most of the popular teams have bowed out of the grand tournament, Yolanda is reluctant to predict a winner as she believes that this has been the most unpredictable World cup. All the teams who reached the semis are tough.

As of yesterday before the semis, she believes that France seems to have an edge because of the big names and the new kid on the block Mbappe! Despite all, she thinks that Belgium and Croatia will meet in the finals. “There is this luck element that seems to be with these two teams besides their steady game,” she points out.


(The works will be open for viewing at Art Chamber from July 14 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then from July 15 to July 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A question will be asked at the opening of the show about the works and FIFA World Cup. The lucky winner will be presented with a work from the Mundial 2018 FIFA World Cup Series. Open to all)

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