Neil in Brazil: This mural tells a thousand words
Street graffiti and football have always shared an extraordinary relationship in Brazil.
Both are respected art forms here, with the pitch and the bare wall offering blank canvases for working-class artists to express themselves.
Some worship sporting heroes with stenciled black and white spray-painted images of Garrincha, Pele and Zico. While some buildings are plastered with protest art depicting starving favela kids staring down at an empty plate, apart from a Fifa football they can't eat.
Every street picture tells a concise story in Brazilian cities.
But Jambeiro's work is the obvious exception. His mural is constantly evolving, almost a month in the making and still not finished. He paints a new image daily with no idea what tomorrow's inspiration will bring. He just knows that when Monday morning comes, his street masterpiece will be finished.
The 44-year-old Rio resident is painting a 30-metre mural that depicts the story of the 2014 World Cup.
ICONIC AND MEMORABLE
Along a single, curved white wall that traverses the boundary of Copacabana's imposing military fort, he has hand-painted iconic images and memorable incidents from the ongoing tournament.
His mural begins with the iconic Maracana Stadium and the Christ the Redeemer statue, both literally and symbolically dwarfed by Neymar celebrating his goal in the World Cup opener against Croatia, his arms stretched wide in a similarly messianic pose.
The artwork takes in many unforgettable moments including the goalkeeping heroics of Guillermo Ocha and Julio Cesar, Robin van Persie's flying header, Iker Casillas' demise, Luis Suarez's rise and fall and David Luiz's wild-haired, wide-eyed manic celebrations after scoring that thumping free-kick against Colombia.
"I started the very day that the World Cup began with the spiritual heart of the tournament, which is the Maracana," said Jambeiro, speaking through a kind tourist who stopped to take photos of the mural but ended up serving as a translator.
"It's a unique piece of art for me because normally I know what I'm going to paint, but I don't know how long it will take. With this mural, I know exactly how long it will take. I've got 30 days. But I never know how it will look from one day to the next and even now I've got no idea how it will finish. That uncertainty is what football is all about. The best art is always spontaneous."
Tourists and locals line up patiently to take photos alongside their favourite images. Some favour their countrymen. Others are guided by artistic preferences. Almost everyone wants to shove a body part into Suarez's snarling, gaping mouth.
Most passers-by politely ask for a selfie with the street artist himself. Jambeiro always obliges, resting his palette on a battered, paint-spattered wooden stall. He's grateful for the recognition. As he points out, if they want to pose with him for pictures, it means they like the paintings.
But he's running out of time.
The full-time artist has painted the four flags of the semi-finalists and has just enough space left at the end of the wall for an explosive, final image from the Maracana on Monday morning (Singapore time).
"I hope the final picture will involve Brazil and Argentina obviously," he laughed. "But really, I'm just hoping there is a great, inspirational image. That's what the World Cup final should be, right? It should inspire us all."
- Watch Neil's interview with Jambeiro and see the full World Cup mural by going to The New Paper online and clicking on Neil in Brazil