Artist creates series of murals of Argentinian soccer legend Lionel Messi in his hometown

In the mornings, the swallows flew about us, making magical sounds. We felt good, adding textures and colors to bring about a change in the image of the city.

  • 2 years ago
  • December 15, 2022
4 min read
The impressive mural of Messi in Rosario, created by Lisandro The impressive mural of Messi in Rosario, created by Lisandro | Photo Courtesy of Lisandro Urteaga
Lisandro Urteaga
Interview Subject
Lisandro Urteaga is an Argentinian artist and muralist. Born in the city of Venado Tuerto in the province of Santa Fe, he moved and grew up in Maggiolo, department of General López.

The artist gained worldwide recognition for painting murals in emblematic places in the city of Rosario, portraying soccer legend Lionel Messi.
Background Information
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini, known as Leo Messi, is an Argentine soccer hero who plays as a striker or midfielder. He became a legend as a player in the Fútbol Club Barcelona for 20 years. Since 2021, he has been a member of the Paris Saint-Germain squad of Ligue 1 in France. He is also the captain of the Argentina team, recent champion of Copa America, and a massive draw for fans around the world at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He was voted the best player in the world with the FIFA Ballon d’Or award seven times since 2009.

ROSARIO, Argentina — I went to the abandoned place in Rosario where they asked me to paint a mural of Argentinian soccer legend Lionel Messi. It looked like a dump. All kinds of odors wafted about the tall, unruly grass and unpainted walls. In that little field in Rosario, Messi kicked his first soccer balls.

With the famed soccer giant’s wedding happening soon, he would be returning to Rosario to show his friends around his hometown. We delved right into the project. I took inspiration from the unique aromas in the community, the love between neighbors, and the pleas of friends who cried out for a mural in Messi’s place of origin.

Working with my partner Marlene Zuriaga, we combined our passions and our colors. We found ourselves immersed, not just in one, but in a movement of murals in the neighborhood. Each piece featured the soccer ace Lionel Messi.

[The duo painted a series of murals in Rosario: facing Messi’s school, on his childhood home, at the field where he played soccer as a kid, and on apartment building on the riverbank. Messi has attracted tens of thousands of fans to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – fans from all over the globe. Some call him a soccer god.]

Read the beautiful hidden stories coming out of the World Cup in Qatar from Orato World Media.

Messi mural inspires kids at the school where he grew up

As I worked on the mural in front of the school where Messi completed his first years of education, I became part of the neighborhood and made friends. We painted this piece in front of square, on a four-story-high wall.

The sounds of the schoolyard surrounded us each day. We heard the playful shouts of children and the bells alerting the change of classes. I felt so proud to paint a portrait of my idol: the #10 player on the Argentinian soccer team.

While working on this piece, I picked my phone up one day to hear a message asking me to take on another challenge: to paint Messi on a skyscraper on the banks of the Paraná River – one of Rosario’s most emblematic places. This piece would be about 70 meters or 229 feet high.

Seventy meters atop the city to create the mural of an idol

The process truly became unforgettable. We worked at a height of 70 meters, which means the wind caressed us at all hours. The river created the ideal landscape with the city in the background. We seemed to look at the scene like witnesses seeking inspiration.

Working at such a height, we felt close to the sky. We jokingly said, over and over, we painted the chamber of heaven. Up there, with the activity of life on pause, we worked at our own pace. Our senses seemed enhanced to the sounds and smells around us. The painting reminded us of the colors of the landscapes and the things that come and go from the city of Rosario.

Lisandro with his co-worker Marlene Zuriaga working on the tallest mural they completed of Messi | Photo Courtesy of Lisandro Urteaga

In the mornings, the swallows flew about us, making magical sounds. We felt good, adding textures and colors to bring about a change in the image of the city. The Paraná River embraced us every evening. We felt the distinct presence of its current and the depth of the waters close by.

Fans and people who admire Leo come to see the murals, and to capture them in photos and videos. It makes us happy to see their joy, shock, and amazement and to hear their wonderful compliments. Visitors to the murals come from all walks of life. They come from Messi’s own neighborhood in Rosario and from remote towns and cities across Argentina, and even throughout the world

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