Thursday, 20 October 2016

M is for Mother - Street Art in Rome


Street art is not new to the Romans. In Renaissance times buildings were decorated with frescoes, some evidence of which can still be seen today in Via della Maschera d'Oro.


'Googling' around the internet, looking for information on street art in Testaccio & Ostiense, turned up a tour offered by Rovescio. What a great find this turned out to be - the tour was one of the highlights of our trip.
We had arranged to meet our guide at the piazza in front of the old slaughterhouse complex which happened to be full of teens on a youth convention the day in question. However, we recognised the logo on Roberta's tee-shirt so all turned out well.



After explaining that we were a total blank canvas and knew virtually nothing about street art, we set off.
A short walk away was the 'Jumping Wolf' by Roa, a Belgian artist. This tribute to the She-Wolf, the symbol of Rome, also happens to be in the area of AS Roma's fan club whose symbol is  a black wolf. Roberta told us that the locals call it 'the rat' on account of its skinny appearance.



We had passed by our next work of art so many times without realising it.
Domenico Romeo is a Calabrian artist who studied graphic design and whose work features a cryptic alphabet that he designed . This piece is called 'Tribulation of a Meeting Point' and is based on the artist's need to talk to himself.

Continuing on our walk, we moved from to Testaccio to Ostiense. An industrial area in the 19th & 20th centuries, there are two reminders of that era here - the gasometers & the Centrale Montemartini, a former power station that now houses classical scuptures. Today, we concentrate on the art of the moment.




Herbert Baglione, a Brazilian artist, was commissioned to produce this work for the Outdoor Urban Art Festival in 2011.
The figures represent life, death, order & chaos. Roberta interpreted the thoughts swirling around the heads of the figures as being very linear in the male & layered in the female. Ha - just as I thought - men can't multitask!



Sten & Lex's home town is Rome and examples of their pioneering stencil art can be seen  on a former nightclub building. The subject is an unknown customer of the club but alongside him the doorman/bouncer is depicted.




J B Rock is an artist/rapper living & working in Rome. His work is another example of stencil art.



He also created the 'Wall of Fame', where each letter of the alphabet is represented by a person, some famous, others not. M is a picture of J B Rock's mother.



In contrast, on the opposite wall, is 'Black & White Power' by Sten & Lex. Here the subjects are anonymous. 




Perhaps the most well known example of street art that we saw on the tour was the old barracks building that was transformed by the artist Blu.



This was fascinating, with so much detail in each of the faces.





On Porta Fluviale, a single building contains two works by different artists.
'Fish'n' Kids' by Augustine Lacurci is a reference to the river port that was built here in the 1900's, and is painted on the front of the fish market. 




On the side of the building the American artist, Axel Void, created 'Nessuno', a work inspired by the Cantini ironmongers built here in 1914 to store the materials that would be used to build the Ostiense district. The woman depicted is based on the founder of the company & the figures in the circle on her shirt represent the workers.


Kid Acne is a hip - hop musician as well as an artist who uses words as the main object of his art. His work 'Paint over the Cracks,' is one of the largest examples of graffiti  in the city.



The abstract geometric style of Stefano S Antonelli was next. The white lines magically become one when viewed from the circle on the pavement opposite.


The colours and shapes of the surrounding area are reflected in 'Behind and in Front of the Wall' by Clemens Behr which is on a building overlooking the Settimia Spizzichino bridge.


The bridge is named after one of the survivors of the holocaust who lived in the neighbourhood. You can read Settimia's story here



The tour ends at Garbatella Metro Station where the American artist Gaia has created 'Nostrum'. This striking art work portrays a face emerging from the water and pays tribute to the migrants who crossed the sea to Italy. Unlike the other works that we have seen this one has had extra graffiti added to it ....not by the artist


As well as learning so much about a subject we knew next to nothing about we also enjoyed discovering the Ostiense area, where the names of the streets reflect their industrial past.
A Rovescio tour is highly recommended.

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