While I travel and write about amazing street art from all around Europe, there is a lot going on in my hometown too. Honestly, I’ve never thought I couldn’t keep up with Rome’s street art scene, but that’s what happened during this spring, so I’m writing a blogpost collecting what’s new on the streets of Rome, including some older works that I still hadn’t review on this blog. At the end of the article, you will find a list of useful links to previous blogposts about Rome’s street art scene.
Enjoy the reading and the hunt!
Street Art in Rome > SAN BASILIO
Street art aside, I’m grateful to the Sanba Project for prompting me to discover the San Basilio area. Located in the north-eastern outskirts of Rome, this neighborhood is often associated with an high criminal rate and, in my imagination, it was just a grey ghetto made of big concrete blocks. Little did I know that San Basilio is actually a very green neighborhood, with nice buildings and a village-ish atmosphere (plus a panoramic view over the Roman hills).
Regarding street art, in San Basilio I spotted several murals painted thanks to the Sanba Project, which aims to redecorate the neighborhood starting from the imagination of its own inhabitants.
In 2014 Sanba hosted the Spanish street artist Liqen, who painted two murals about the (nowadays unbalanced) relationship between men and Nature.
In El Renacer Liqen depicts rebirth as the result of a general raking up all the detritus of the industrial economy.
In El Devenir, instead, humans don’t have such an active role: the earth is simply carrying on without them and Mother Nature has gained back her supremacy, represented by an idyllic scene of plants and insects.
Still in 2014, Sanba hosted Agostino Iacurci, who painted two murals representing the relationship between the neighborhood and its inhabitants.
In The Blind Wall, a man is watering the plants and thus taking care of his neighborhood, while in The Globe San Basilio is depicted as a globe held in great esteem by its inhabitants.
A few months ago, Sanba invited Hitnes to paint six different facades overlooking Giulietto Minna square.
Hitnes’ work is highly surrealist, almost dreamlike, and depicts six different animals as if they were the guardians of the neighborhood.
Street Art in Rome > SPAGNA SUBWAY STATION
[Edit 2017: there is no more street art inside Spagna station, but you can still enjoy the photos I took there. Street art is ephemeral, one day is there and the next day is gone, but that’s my point for running a street art blog ;) ]
If you are coming to Rome for a short holiday, maybe you won’t have the time to venture to the outskirts (although I highly recommend it!); but I’m sure you won’t miss the chance to admire street art at Spagna subway station (yep, that’s beside the Spanish steps).
The street art makeover of Spagna metro station in 2014 was carried out by the 999Contemporary Art Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Urban Legends’ at MACRO Testaccio. The artists showing at MACRO were invited to paint a wall inside the underpass leading from Piazza di Spagna to the trains.
My favorite works are: two works by C215, the portrait of the Pope near the ticket booth and one of his signature cats above the main stairway;
Seth‘s dreamlike characters, who are plunging their heads into a colorful parallel world;
and the works by Eron, whose art is based on the perceptive phenomenon of pareidolia, the visual form of apophenia, which is the perception of patterns within random data; the artist painted rusty humidity stains inside of which human faces slowly appear: I find it very poetic!
Street Art in Rome > OSTIENSE
One year later, immediately opposite Sten&Lex painted the required audience, made up of several anonymous people looking at the very important people in front of them.
Another anonymous face by Sten&Lex can be found on via delle Conce, near the entrance to the popular night club Rising Love; here the artists stenciled the portrait of a random student whose picture they found in a vintage university yearbook. The same night club is guarded by the gangster / bodyguard realistically painted by MTO, a mural with the elusive title of Silvio’s house.
Unfortunately the works by Lucamaleonte and Hitnes on the nearby underpass have been whitewashed, but by walking through that underpass you can reach BLU’s works on the former aeronautical barracks, now squatted by several families. After painting a colourful collection of aliens in 2013, one year later the artist came back to paint the side of the building, depicting a ship turned into a metropolitan construction site, which is sailing over large waves and being attacked by pirates, representing a soon-to-sink industrial metropolis.
Via del Porto Fluviale is the core of Ostiense’s colourful revolution: on this street you can also spot the ironic work by Agostino Iacurci, depicting an idyllic scene of a man happily swimming among fish, right above the fish market of the neighborhood, where fish lie dead waiting to be cooked and served.
Around the corner, there is one of my favorite murals in town: an hyper-realistic work by Axel Void portraying an owner of the hardware store housed in that building since the development of the industrial area of Ostiense during the 19th century, linking to the neighborhood’s past, which is also represented inside a brooch on the lady’s collar.
Read my interview with Axel Void at Nuart 2016
Turning around the corner, you can easily reach Via del Commercio and its three amazing street art works in the shadow of the gas holders: an abstract work by Momo wrapping the building in geometrical patterns,
Update 2020: Unfortunately this mural by Momo isn’t there anymore
a graffuturist mural by Derek Bruno
[EDIT 2018: Sadly, this mural has been erased]
and Kid Acne’s Paint over the cracks, a call for moving forward through art and imagination, which can also be read as the neighbourhood’s declaration of intent: to shift from an industrial area to an open air museum.
Read more: Ostiense Street Art and the story behind the murals. (updated!)
Street Art in Rome > TOR MARANCIA
From Ostiense you can easily reach Tor Marancia, where a whole group of former council houses on via Annio Felice has been repainted by local and international street artists.
One of my favorite murals of the project is by Seth, whose character climbs a ladder made of crayons, which allows him to peep through a five-floor building to immerse himself in a wonder world, perhaps a world where impersonal council buildings can turn into an open-air museum.
Next to it, there is a mural by the Argentinian street artist Jaz, representing the strong bond between Italy and Argentina as a match of lucha libre.
Between these two murals there is a small door: enter the rabbit hole and you will discover a colorful world, made up of some of the best street art murals in Rome.
Read more: Tor Marancia street art and the story behind the murals. (updated!)
Rome Street Art Map:
Find these murals (and many more!) in my Rome Google Map!