The finals of the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament were played in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday. Spain managed to secure the championship, beating The Netherlands 1-0 in overtime (although Spanish fans really shouldn't have been worried, with Paul the amazing oracle octopus on their side.)
For those World Cup fans who are already missing their daily soccer fix, The Modern's painting Montana Xibalba: Translation #2, by Jess, is currently on display in the galleries.
Jess found this image of soccer players in a 1944 University of Montana yearbook, and immediately associated it with an ancient pre-Columbian myth: The Mayan culture believed that the sun and the moon were born from a soccer game between two mortal heroes and the Lords of Xibalba (the Mayan equivalent of the underworld,) and that the movements of the planets were determined by the action of the game. The sun is represented by the yellow soccer ball in the painting, and the players are the heroes and gods of the story. The mythic nature of the piece is further evidenced by the player in the foreground, whose jersey number (8), represents the infinity symbol.
The interesting texture of Jess' painting is a result of multiple layers of oil paint. The work began as a pencil drawing and was painted in by sections, (like a coloring book.) The thickness and intensity of the layering were entirely dependent on the artist's painting motions. Montana Xibalba: Translation #2 took Jess more than three months to complete, and is composed of roughly six to eight layers of oil paint per section of color.
By incorporating mythological elements into his depiction of the sport, Jess' painting manages to convey the importance and popularity of soccer, from its early history with the Mayans to its prominence in the world today.