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.
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.]
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.
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.
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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