Francisco Rebolo Gonsales (1902-1980) is an exceptional case of a player-painter that the history of modernism bequeathed to us. Rebolo worked as an apprentice home decorator in downtown São Paulo. The son of Spanish immigrants, from poor origins, he had been a semi-professional football player since 1917, starting his career in the Associação Atlética São Bento team.
In 1922, he played for Corinthians. Despite his short stature, he had tremendous speed and speed, and he was quick to dribble opponents. He cultivated great empathy for the Parque São Jorge club and, given his skill not only with his feet, but also with his hands, he was responsible for the design of their badge in the 1930s, stamped on the team's uniform.
The Corinthians symbol, created by Rebolo, is still officially recognized by the club's history. After 5 years at the club, he also played for Ypiranga, the team he played for from 1927 until the end of his career, in 1934. From that period onwards, he devoted himself more intensively to the visual arts and, in particular, to landscape painting. He belonged to the Santa Helena group, formed by artists – such as Alfredo Volpi – who maintained studios in the building of the same name in downtown São Paulo, next to Praça da Sé, and was called by Mário de Andrade a “proletarian artist”.
In 1936, he painted Futebol. The canvas suggests a match between Brazilians and Argentines or Uruguayans, and in it the chromatic contrast of white and black players stands out, reflected in turn in the contrasting pair of colors of the uniforms – which includes beret, shirt, shorts, socks and cleats – of the respective teams. According to sociologist Antônio Gonçalves, Rebolo’s testimonies indicate that the player was one of the pioneers in the struggle for the incorporation of black people into Brazilian football between the 1920s and 1930s.
Uniform originally worn by Amílcar Barbuy, a remnant of the 1922 South American Championship, held in Rio de Janeiro and won by the Brazilian National Team. Fabio Barbuy Personal Collection.
In 2005, at the Moisés Lucarelli stadium, Ponte Preta fans extended a banner with a questioning question about the racial issue in football. In the history of this sport, the Campinas club is recognized as one of the pioneers in the presence of athletes of black origin in its ranks. Photograph: Daniel Lima | Invisíveis Produções.
Francisco Rebolo profiled among the teammates of the C. A. Ypiranga around 1930. Photograph: Unknown Author | Instituto Rebolo.
The painter-player Francisco Rebolo is the author of this canvas, entitled Futebol (1936), in which two athletes dispute control of the ball. The frame accentuates the chromatic contrast between the uniforms and the athletes themselves. The image illustrates the cover of the fourth edition of the classic book O Negro no Futebol Brasileiro, written by Mario Filho. Photograph: Futebol, 1936 | Instituto Rebolo.
Francisco Rebolo at the time he played for Clube Atlético Ypiranga, around 1930. Photograph: Unknown Author | Instituto Rebolo.