Gallery draws football fans to Tottenham Stadium for art

LONDON – Annie Lawrence, 8, looked excited on Sunday afternoon. She was set to see Tottenham Hotspur, the football team she backs, play...

LONDON – Annie Lawrence, 8, looked excited on Sunday afternoon. She was set to see Tottenham Hotspur, the football team she backs, play their first game of the English Premier League season – but her zest for life was not entirely due to the impending game.

Lawrence stood in OUF, a gallery dedicated to football art that opened last month in a building adjoining the club’s stadium gift shop. Some of the works on display seemed to make her as happy as a victory at Tottenham.

OFA’s opening show, “Balls” (until November 21) features 17 pieces of contemporary art made using or depicting soccer balls. There’s a concrete one and a silicone one that looks like it’s covered with nipples.

Pointing to a huge bronze from a deflated Marcus Harvey bullet, Lawrence said, “I would like this one in my room.” The artist said in a telephone interview that the work could evoke anything of Britain’s decline as an imperial power until the end of childhood.

Still, for Lawrence, its appeal was simpler: “It looks like you could sit on it, like a sofa,” she said.

Lawrence then took his father upstairs and watched a play called “The Longest Ball in the World” by French artist Laurent Perbos. “It looks like a sausage! She said, before smiling for photos in front of another room that features a papier-mâché soccer ball spinning in a microwave.

Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the works on display. Below, Ron Iley, 71, stared at Argentinian artist Nicola Costantino’s nipple-covered balloon. “Load of garbage,” he said, then walked out.

The worlds of art and football don’t necessarily mix. The best-known recent work to combine the two is a bust of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese player, who hit the headlines when he was unveiled in 2017 because he looked nothing like him. Other pieces, like Andy Warhol’s Pelé acrylic serigraphs, are little more than simple tributes to great sportsmen.

Eddy Frankel, an art critic who founded OOF with gallery owners Jennie and Justin Hammond, said he wanted to show that football art, like football is known in Britain, can be exciting, complex and stimulating. “We use football to express ideas about society,” Frankel said. “If you want to talk about racism, fanaticism, homophobia, or if you want to talk about community, belief and passion: all of that you can with football.”

Frankel said he used to keep his passion for football quiet in the British art world because “you can’t really get away with being in both”. That changed one night in 2015 when he was at Sotheby’s reporting on an auction of a monumental painting by Gerhard Richter, the German painter. The sale collided with a game featuring Tottenham Hotspur, the club backed by Frankel, so he started watching the game on his phone. Soon about 15 people behind him leaned over to get a view, he said.

“I just said ‘Oh, so there are people who care about football in the art world like me,’ Frankel said.

In 2018, he launched OOF as a magazine that explores the intersection of his passions. “We thought maybe we were going to get away with four issues,” he said. The biannual magazine is now in its eighth issue.

Setting up an exhibition space seemed the next logical step, Frankel said, adding that he initially wanted to open it in a former kebab shop near Tottenham Hotspur stadium, which is around eight miles away. north of the traditional London gallery quarters. But when he and his partners approached the local council for help, they suggested contacting the club instead, which offered a 19th-century townhouse incongruously located outside the club’s futuristic stadium and attached to his gift shop.

Most of the works on display at the OFA are for sale, with some pieces valued up to $ 120,000, but the gallery has much higher footfall than most commercial galleries. More than 60,000 fans come to the stadium on match days, and on Sunday a few hundred spectators stood out from the crowd to take a look, many dressed in Tottenham Hotspur uniforms.

“We basically run a museum, with no museum budget,” Frankel said.

An ironic sign at the entrance asking visitors not to kick the art, but not everyone complied, Frankel said: On a recent visit, Ledley King, a former captain of Tottenham Hotspur, had given “The longest ball in the world” a light boot.

Pebros, the artist behind the artwork, laughed when told about the incident in a telephone interview. “Maybe he doesn’t go to a lot of galleries, so he didn’t know,” he said.

The current squad, including famous striker Harry Kane, had yet to visit the gallery, Frankel said. Players were trying to minimize social interactions during the pandemic.

“Obviously we’re a commercial gallery, so it would be nice to sell art,” Frankel said. “But the real success is if we can get a lot of people through the door and get them to engage in contemporary art, which normally wouldn’t,” he added.

Most of the hundreds of visitors Sunday match this bill. “We don’t go to galleries if we’re being honest,” Hannah Barnato, 27, said with her partner. “But it’s interesting. It’s different, ”she said.

Sam Rabin, one of three gallery guides who speak to fans through the artwork, said it was a common reaction. “I’ve never heard the expression ‘It’s different’ more than I’ve worked here,” he said.

But many visitors, especially children, showed a deep connection to the art on display, he said, adding that it proved that football and art were not separate worlds that they could. appear. “These are two emotional experiences,” he said. “These are two interesting experiences. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Gallery draws football fans to Tottenham Stadium for art
Gallery draws football fans to Tottenham Stadium for art
Newsrust - US Top News
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