‘Football is the only global sport, it transcends national boundaries, cultures, peoples.’ — Robert Davies 2005
‘As Nabokov said, ‘Detail is everything’: the way they flattened the rivets on the Spitfire during the war to give it more speed; the scarlet soles on a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes; the precise weight of Pele’s pass to Carlos Alberto?’ — Robert Davies, 2005
Robert Davies has spent much of the last 7 years making still images from video footage of the World Cup. Sourcing film from each tournament since 1930 (17 championships to 2002) Davies has been scrutinizing the footage to uncover the key moments, or ‘epiphanies’ from the history of the world’s most popular sporting event. Each picture is a detail from a crucial passage of play. Imprinted on our collective memory and transcending the game itself these sublime moments are frozen in time. Grace, wit and desire are represented, sadness, joy and gamesmanship described. The photographs are both abstract and figurative celebrating the magnificent skill and pure emotions of the players and the beautiful imagery created by Davies that evokes and describes these moments.
“I see an epiphany as a moment of revelation. The title is inspired by the idea that these great moments from the history of the World Cup are moments that changed the lives of people. Whether you are the supporter of a team that wins the world cup or a neutral watching beautiful histories unfold, an action of sublime skill, deftness or cunning can be very inspiring. Each feels like a small epiphany.” Davies 2004
Davies has an almost photographic visual memory ‘... I’ve watched all the great matches of the World Cup on video and read quite a bit about the history of the tournament. Since 1974 I’ve watched as many games live as possible and most of the highlights so I’m well acquainted with the majority of the significant moments.’
Through 'Epiphany' it is clear to see that Davies’ work has an obvious relationship with painting, which is very important to his practise and central to his method of expression. Here his images begin to resemble Pointillism: the impressionist technique developed by the French painter Georges Seurat at the end of the 19th Century, where the image was made up of tiny spots of vivid colour that, at a distance, would appear to blend together. Davies' transforms these key moments from footballing history, into colour-saturated, pixilated blurs.
Ambiguous forms entice the viewer's eye into attempting to resolve what has almost become an optical storm. Where we can make out the canary yellow shirts of Brazil and the vermilion of Holland, but the frantic action has become an enigmatic collision of forms, inviting the viewer's imagination to run riot.
The photographs in this exhibition display crucial moments that have illuminated or changed football games at the World Cup finals. Covering kick off, the full 90 minutes, extra time, penalties and celebrations. From the famous ‘Cruijff-Turn’ during Holland v Sweden in the 1974 tournament to, Maradona’s unforgettable goal in Mexico ’86 in the 54th minute and the net of the goal bulging to Michael Owen’s goal during England v Argentina in France in 1998.
Davies has exhibited widely internationally, with solo exhibitions in Holland, Germany, The USA, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland and throughout England. His work is also extensively published and is represented in the permanent collections of, amongst others: FOAM Photography Museum, Amsterdam, Musée de l'Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland, Citibank, United Airlines, Cable & Wireless, Goldman Sachs and The Economist, London.