Grassroots football comes alive at this Doha studio and leaves a whiff of coffee

Artist Patric Rozario and a painting from his Grassroots Football series : Special Arrangement

A faint smell of coffee lingers on the walls of artist Patric Rozario's studio in Doha. “I use them for my paintings. My latest series called Grassroots Football features 100 works done with coffee and watercolours. This is my tribute to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Doha,” he explains.

The 57-year-old has his roots in Maradu, Ernakulam, and developed his love for football as a student at the Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Thiruvananthapuram.

Excerpts from an email interview with him.

What is your project Grassroots Football about?
My paintings are scenes on nostalgia and grassroots football. This is where it all began — in the alleyways, villages, paddy field, the favelas.

It’s about grassroots football: football’s soul; football without rules, without reins, without restrictions or referees’ whistles. Sometimes even without a ball: rolled-up newspaper, rags and anything kids can kick. Monks, ladies in saree, nuns, old people, young kids, and just about anyone but professional football players.

Through these coffee and watercolor paintings, I wish millions of people see, identify, appreciate and recognize the ordinary people and places where football is played, where dreams are born and champions are created.

How did you come up with the idea?
I got the aha moment in late November 2021: to do paintings related to grassroots football. I started painting in December 2021.

I did extensive research, online too, and also spoke to football professionals. I studied grassroots football photographs available online. I compiled those that had a good history and narrative and got permissions to use them.

My friends from around the world also sent me photographs of football in the streets and villages. They also provided me with background stories of those photographs and I used them for my works.

Why coffee as a medium?
Coffee and watercolor. Coffee is a natural dye. I have paintings that I have created 10 years ago. They still look fresh as they were when I painted them. Coffee comes in different shades of brown, from very light brown to almost black. It’s a versatile medium. I also like the sepia look it creates.

Did you study art? How did you become an artist?
I did not study art in a traditional institution. Art is communication. I did my masters in Communication Management from University of South Australia. I was a Radio Officer for Singapore’s national carrier – Neptune Orient Lines. I sailed the world for about eight years. My travels around the globe exposed me to the colors and cultures of the world. All of those come together in my art output.

What do you plan to do with these works?
All the 100 paintings will be framed. Each painting will be accompanied with its narrative, in English and Arabic. These images will also be used for advertising and promotions for organisations that will partner with me in this project. I also plan to create a coffee table book.  

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