Olympic Art


By Hans Vervoort – When my partner in crime Jelle Raven and myself where developing the concept of the ISFFA (International Sports Film Festival Amsterdam) it was clear that we wanted to tell the story off sports and their hero’s in a million different ways. Quite quickly in that brainstorming process it became obvious that only film wouldn’t be enough but that the ISFFA should offer a podium where the fine arts and sports culture should melt together. The story told not only by filmmakers but also by painters, writers, journalists, photographers and theatre makers alike. All to discover the connection between art and sports.

In a series of blogs I will explore this connection by interviewing several artists that have created art for the 2016 Rio Olympics. This week the first one, Alexandre Mancini (41), born in Belo Horizonte Brazil. Alexandre makes very impressive panels with tiles. Holding on to a Brazilian tradition. The poster he designed for the 2016 Olympics is based on this work and inspired by the shapes of sports grounds.

Why did you choose tiles as a medium?

Tiles, in fact, was always my medium. I know them, I understand them… a piece of clay with four sides of ninety degrees that can bring the entire comprehension of the world. A piece of pure history.

For the poster of the Olympic Games I wanted to tell the history of Brazilian tile art.  In the colonial time Brazil received a lot of Portuguese tiles (and Dutch too). As seen in the old city of Rio, for example. In the 20th century Brazil developed a unique aesthetic in the hands of master artists as Portinari and Burle Marx, always integrated into the modern architecture of Niemeyer and Lucio Costa for example.

So, using hand painted tiles as medium I intended to bring  continuity to Brazilian tile art tradition. Using geometric elements that I understand as universal language, that means, understandable to everyone, from children in China or an elderly person in New Zeeland. I suggest in abstract form the Olympic Arches and the central part of the Brazilian flag. The underlying forms bring rhythm and dynamic movements suggesting sportive action.

What sports related art works did you make?

In my career I made a lot of important panels, especially in public places. For example, the panel at the headquarters of my local football team, Clube Atlético Mineiro this is a complete emotional and personal work. But making a Olympic Poster reveals as a lifetime opportunity a chance to talk and communicate to the whole world with my art is just incredible! Furthermore, being a little part of the Olympic history is something that I simply don’t understand yet. It’s a big thing.

art alexander

How does sports (does it?) inspire you?

I received a huge influence from Posters of the Olympic Games and World Cups. Seeing Yasaku Kamekura’s Tokyo 1964 poster or Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games and Mexico World Cup 1970 are pure inspirations. 

Mexico 86 Tokyo 64

How can sports benefit form art and vice versa?

Sports and Art are incredible human expressions. It’s a necessity for all of us, in the entire world. Sports and Art give children education, sometimes saves them. It can be an emotional expression or sometimes just fun. It tells about our virtues or our worst flaws. It needs to be shared, be viewed, be part of us. If there’s a bridge between art and sport, it’s us humans.


Alexandre Manicini in front of Clube Atletico Mineiro (Galo) listening to the radio during the final of 2013 Copa Libertadores da América (Continental Cup) between Galo x Olimpia from Paraguay.

“My passion is so big that I couldn’t go to the stadium or see on TV… I just wanted to be there, as we say, in our Cathedral”