Image: ‘In Front of You’. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
Some people never seem to rest. Despite a busy career as an architect-designer, once Piero Russi discovered a huge box of threads as he was sorting through his parent’s possessions, he was on his way to becoming a textile artist, too.
Image: 'Milano Mundial'. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
As an artist, he is less interested in the technical details of embroidery stitches, as he is in the tactility of fabric as a medium. The fabrics he uses in his works all hold personal memories for him, and those memories become part of the narrative behind each piece. Works may contain fragments of his children's pyjamas, of his wife’s worn skirt, of his father's jumper, of an old tablecloth.
It was the potential of this layering of meaning that led him to create The Fabric of Soccer series, to represent both the material and immaterial aspects of ‘the beautiful game’.
Image: ‘Three-Five-Three’. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
‘Any artistic representation of soccer cannot help but be a mirror of the society we live in, reflecting the latter’s follies, truths, and limits,’ he writes. ‘Soccer is a baroque world, rich in colour and symbols, which is made of fabric— the fabric of its jerseys, shorts, flags, and banners. I am a soccer fan, and I wanted to tell people about the sport by showing the joy, pain, and passion of its protagonists; the players, the trainers, the umpires and, ultimately, the fans. Today, players and coaches are often regarded as modern-day heroes— in the same way as the princes, knights, and mercenaries of antiquity. In The Fabric of Soccer, I wanted to represent the feats of these heroes.’
Image: 'Goodbye Best’. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
‘The Fabric of Soccer is made up of scenes, each of which catches the protagonists in a decisive moment of their career and life. A player is sent off by the referee, another is carried out on a stretcher, still another does a celebratory dance after scoring. Some scenes take place outside the pitch: in a television studio, or in a crowded bar, or even on a private jet. However, they all revolve around playing and living soccer.’
Image: 'Mr. Subbuteo’. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
‘Soccer cuts across social and economic barriers, following an almost ritualistic script, written in an easily decodable language. This makes it appealing to both young and old, of all nationalities. I hope The Fabric of Soccer series can mean something to everybody, even to those who don’t know football, or have never cared for it.’
Image: ‘Hooligans’. From The Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.
Russi’s work has received much media attention and been widely exhibited, including in 70 the Exhibition, held at the ABC Gallery in Manchester to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. His commissioned portraits are held in several private collections. He is currently working on a new project in Sambuca di Sicilia. Some people just never seem to sleep.
Image: ‘Regina di Coppe’. From the Fabric of Soccer series. Courtesy of Piero Russi.