On Tuesday 22nd September, legendary footballer Pelé was at Halcyon Gallery in London to unveil Pelé: Art, Life, Football, an exhibition celebrating his 75th birthday and lifetime of sporting and humanitarian achievements.
Arriving in true style on a bespoke number 10 Pelé bus, the Brazilian hero unveiled the highly anticipated collection alongside internationally acclaimed artists including Lorenzo Quinn, Mitch Griffiths, Pedro Paricio, Santiago Montoya and Ernesto Cánovas at an exclusive pre-launch ahead of the opening on Saturday 26th September.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is Warhol’s original painting Pelé (1977) from his ‘Athletes’ series comprising ten portraits of sporting heroes. The renowned pop artist famously predicted that one day, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, but it would be Pelé whose fame would last for “15 centuries.”
The exhibition, open to the general public until 18th October, will display photography, original paintings, limited edition sculptures and prints by 13 artists including Andy Warhol, Lorenzo Quinn, Mitch Griffiths, Ernesto Canovas, Santiago Montoya, Ronnie Wood, Russell Young, Raphael Mazzucco and Stuart McAlpine Miller.
In addition to the contemporary artwork on display, the exhibition will also include iconic memorabilia from Pelé’s incredible career; the world famous Jules Rimet trophy and his 3 World Cup Medals football - on loan for the first time ever outside of Brazil.
Commenting on the exhibition Pelé said: “I feel extremely blessed to be working with the Halcyon Gallery who have commissioned such an exciting collection to celebrate my birthday and my career. Art has played a big role in my life for many years and it has been a very humbling experience to have so many talented artists creating such beautiful work in my honour. I believe art can be interpreted in many ways much like football, Football is art to me and it’s a very nice birthday present!
Paul Green, President of Halcyon Gallery added: “If ever the expression ‘the beautiful game’ was applicable to one individual it was Pelé. And it is this beauty, this creativity, this human presence that we wanted this exhibition to capture and re-create on canvas, in sculpture and in print. When we open our doors on September 26th we are confident that the public will be able to experience something truly unique”.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a book which will include essays by Dr. Bernard Vere, Lecturer in Modern Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and bestselling biographer Brian Winter. A limited boxed edition comprising a framed, signed limited edition print and book will also be available.
Of Pelé’s enduring impact, Winter writes:
“Pelé is a beacon of simple, non-empirical emotion. Something about the man makes us happy, joyous, whole. We need not be fans of football, or even sport, to feel his magic. More than half of the planet’s people weren’t even born when Pelé played his final professional match, in 1977. Yet, somehow, he makes them smile too. He delights and inspires, even today.”