Sport as a religion: Darío Escobar shows sporting equipment in a non-traditional context

Sport as a religion: Darío Escobar shows sporting equipment in a non-traditional context

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Guatemalan artist Darío Escobar presents sporting equipment like footballs, skateboards or baseball bats in an entirely new context. He sees sport as a global religion of the present era, so even everyday objects we take with us to the playground gain an aura of relics in his installations. A skateboard is decorated like a golden baroque altar, bicycle tires are reminiscent of a snake from the myths of pre-Colombus Latin America. 

Dario Escobar, Urban Landscape, 2018, source: author’s website

Darío Escobar is a Guatemalan conceptual artist who creates his installation from various everyday objects and often also from sporting equipment. Escobar uses these familiar objects in connection with traditional Guatemalan crafting techniques and mythological references.

Dario Escobar, Quetzacoatl III, 2004, source: author’s website

Escobar places traditional sporting equipment, like baseball bats or table tennis rackets, footballs, skateboards, tires and other bicycle parts into entirely new contexts and thus changes their meaning and visual effect. „My work starts by reflecting on an industrially made object. It is a constant consideration of the same objects through different sculptural approaches, new configurations of the same element repeated obsessively over and over again as if you present an item in a supermarket or a sports shop,” states Escobar. Thanks to the use of this artistic concept these otherwise differently used objects gain new meanings.

Sporting symbols connect the world

The artist uses the global character of sport in his work since through the use of media the sporting industry has surpassed national borders a long time ago. Nowadays, we can find international communities around sports other than traditional giants like football but also around those that gained their popularity much later, for example, various adrenaline sports. The worldwide love of these sports creates globally used symbols, understood across continents.

Dario Escobar, Obverse & reverse XIV, 2014, source: author’s website

In his work, Escobar discovers many similarities between sport and religion, both in Latin America and worldwide. According to him, athletes have nowadays become such influential figures for young people that in the eyes of teenagers sporting equipment gains the significance of religious relicts. Escobar transforms objects connected to sport into the shape of religious items and connects the past to the future in an interesting confrontation. 

Referencing Latin-American mythology and Christian baroque

In his works, Escobar tries to connect traditional Guatemalan art and religious symbols with contemporary visual culture. Skateboards are covered in silver to resemble religious reliquaries or altar imagery from the times of colonial baroque. Bicycle tiers twist around in the form of a mythical snake referencing pre-Christian traditions of Latin America. 

Dario Escobar, Untitled, 2007, source: author’s website


Escobar’s newest exhibition Encrypted Messages which took place this spring in the Nils Stærk gallery in Copenhagen focused on examining the antipoles of consumerism and religion in contemporary history. Escobar introduced two series at the exhibition, both based on found objects. The first series consisted of road signs gathered while travelling around eastern Guatemala and southern Mexico, and the second was focusing on sporting equipment. He modified both groups of objects using baroque techniques of laying gold leaf on various materials’ surfaces, commonly used in colonial church decorations. 

Dario Escobar, Juego Doble, source: author’s website

Darío Escobar is an unmistakable representative of contemporary fine art in Latin America. He focuses on various creative forms, like the aforementioned installations as well as painting, drawing and sculpture. He attended the Rafael Landívar University and later also studied fine art at La Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas Rafael Rodríguez Padilla in Guatemala City. Escobar has been a part of many solo and group exhibitions around the world, for example in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Sydney, Paris and Toronto. In 2009, he represented Latin America at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His works are included in many collections, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Daros Collection in Zurich, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundacion and Colección JUMEX in Mexico or The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TA. Escobar lives and works in Guatemala City.

 

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Published 18.07.2022

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