100 Creatives 2014: Betirri Bengtson, Visual Artist, Creates Bodiless Soccer Players
photo provided by Betirri Bengtson Mexico vs. USA
When he came to Houston from Mexico almost 17 years ago, Betirri Bengtson brought his country's fervor for soccer with him and poured it into his artwork.
"In Mexico, we're born and we grow up with futbol everywhere. In the streets, in the parks," says Bengtson.
His eerie and surrealistic paintings depict soccer players from around the globe, sans limb or jersey logo. "There are no people, but you can see the movement, the motion of the players, the teams and the colors. The essence of the game."
Bengtson took these pieces with him to Rio De Janiero last month, displaying them for soccer fans who'd come to the city for the World Cup from around the world to see. Before that, a Brazilian soccer team had commissioned him, which is when he knew that he should start pursuing art for a living.
"I wake up start, start working, take a break to go eat and work out, I come back to work until I go to sleep again. So it's just a lot of sacrifices, a lot of things that you really miss. But then you start to see the results. I was able to do my dream, and it was worth it."
Photo courtesy of Betirri Bengtson
What He Does: "One thing that I see about art is that it is a profession. It's a nice profession, because you really enjoy it and it's very emotional, but you have to have marketing, sales, everything, financial advisors, everything in order to grow.
"You have your art. It's a product, it's a luxury for people, so you have to work. I mean you have to do marketing, you have to do sales, you have to network, and it is nice. You learn about what business is in a way. So it gets very complex."
What Inspires Him: "When I was little, I used to draw and paint. But then I started looking at different artists, like from the Renaissance, or Dutch artists. I really like the classical style, how it's realistic and the way [classical paintings] use contrast and lighting. I really like detail, so I kept experimenting with it.
"I didn't know when it was going to happen, it just happened. I think I was really lucky because fútbol is my other passion, just the joy of touching a ball and playing. You forget about everything else. And art does exactly the same thing. So now I'm combining them."