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Olé Olé Olé: Edgar Plans on His Collaboration with EA Sports and K11 Art Mall

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Following last year’s collaboration with the NBA, Spanish artist Edgar Plans reunites with K11 Art Mall for a new partnership with EA Sports.

Art Basel may have ended in late March, but there’s still plenty of art to see in the city. One of this month’s hotspots is K11 Art Mall, which is bringing back Spanish artist Edgar Plans for the Game Starts! world tour following a collaborative exhibition with the National Basketball Association (NBA) last year. It’s sports-themed once again, but this time round it’s with a brand that’s even closer to the artist’s heart: EA Sports FC.

“In Spain, it’s very common to play Football when you’re a child. It’s the first sport you play with your friends on the street, and this project allows me to revisit my childhood,” Plans tells me. “To work with EA Sports is even more amazing, because back in the 1980s I grew up playing video Games in my friend’s house, especially Football Games, so this exhibition is a tribute to those experiences.”

Not only is EA Sports a household name in his own country, but it also sponsors Spain’s top football league, La Liga, so Plans believes his latest exhibition, which combines his whimsical characters with both an interactive video game experience and an actual football field where children can play and practice, will find resonance not only here in Hong Kong, but also back home. 

“I’ve worked with the NBA before, and I learned a lot about how to create an even better experience this time with K11 Art Mall and EA Sports,” says Plans. “I’ve also gained a better understanding of the characters I create, because for me it’s important to think about art not only as something visual, but also as something you can participate in. 

“I’m lucky because I’m always approached for these fun projects, probably because
of the style of my art, and I hope the audience will interact with my characters with joy and happiness,” he adds. “It’s not really about me. People can love these characters without necessarily knowing me or my art. A lot of children won’t know me, but I’m sure they’ll have fun with the exhibition.”

This focus on having fun marks a slight departure from Plans’ usual work, which, though featuring characters and “heroes” with childlike innocence, often shed light on a deeper narrative around social issues, such as the urgency of climate change and the overconsumption of resources, but it’s an intentional and welcome one, he says. 

“With every art piece I do, I start with a story first, and never a character. When I know which story I want to tell, I work my characters into that narrative, and try to spread a message about social problems we’re facing now,” Plans explains. “But for me, this show is very much focused on just being fun for the people who visit, because it revolves around football and video games. Just like those memories of my childhood, it’s more about enjoyment and not so much about trying to spread a message.”

An artist and a collector himself, he understands why sometimes people may view art through the lens of investment, but at the core of what he does is a sense of happiness and joy that he wishes to share with others, and this project was the perfect canvas. 

“When I work on my own paintings, enjoyment is crucial, but even when I think like an art collector, the first thing is about love,” he says. “I must love what I see, and I hope that’s what people feel about my art too.

“Whenever I receive these kinds of projects, it blows my mind,” he adds with a smile. “When I got a call from EA Sports, I was stunned. I bought all their Games and I played them religiously growing up, and now they want to work with me? It gives me pressure, sure, but it’s also an incredible opportunity.” 

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