You already know how much I like M.U.Ro., the Urban Art Museum of Rome.
At the very top of my Top 10 off-the-beaten path spots in Rome, M.U.Ro. gives to all street art lovers the hope that even the ancient and classical Rome could become a street art’s Mecca.
Since my last visit in February 2014 many new murals have been painted and I was looking forward to coming back to check them out!
- Read also: “Street Art in Rome: A Guide to Ephemeral Art in Italy’s Eternal City” the ultimate travel guide to the top 26 neighborhoods to find street art in Rome, with handpicked local tips to eat, drink and shop in Rome like a local.
I already wrote about the M.U.Ro. Project itself and the overall charm of Quadraro neighbourhood; so this time I’m focusing on the artistic side of the project, which I had the chance to appreciate even more after a walking tour organised by the guys at M.U.Ro.
The tour started from Gary Baseman’s work, which connects the history of the neighbourhood –represented by the acronym Q44 indicating the Nazi round-up happened on April 17th 1944- to the artist’s father, who was a partisan in Poland during the Nazi occupation. Here, the artist’s father is represented as a deer-looking creature, armed and combatant against the Nazi oppressors in the form of flying devils. Around him, there are three more figures: Liberty which is looking up to him, Trust -beheaded and betrayed, as in the history of the Nazi occupation of Poland-, and Truth which is looking at us with its big, wide eye…a word to the wise.
From Largo dei Quintili we turned to Lucamaleonte’s work, still inspired from the partisan past of Quadraro neighbourhood, an area called by Nazi troops “wasps’ nest” for its inaccessibility. Lucamaleonte painted seven wasps as 2014 is the 70th anniversary of the Nazi round-up. The sentence “you are now entering free Quadraro” was already written on this wall, and we can find it also in other areas of Rome: the “trend” started in Derry, a town in Northern Ireland fighting for its independence. Near the artist’s signature, there is the physics formula of the resistance, as a tribute to Quadraro’s strength during WW2.
Strolling along Via Monte del Grano we arrived at Largo dei Tribuni to admire Nicola Alessandrini’s mural representing an animal sacrifice: a long, pink, hyper-realistic snake (a depiction of any power: political, economic and religious) about to eat a green mouse. Only few men, represented as half monster by Diavù, can ride the snake, while the majority of us is supporting it and feeding it, eventually keeping the Power alive.
Back on Via dei Lentuli, we found “Quadraro people” by Diavù, a depiction of local men that were put against the wall by Nazi troops in 1944. Lots of litter is drawn at the bottom of the mural, as that was the sad condition of Quadraro neighbourhood back in 2010 before the hood was revitalised and color-washed by this street art project.
Aside there are two sad, lost-in-thought faces of women by the French artist Zelda Bomba. The two works are strictly connected: after the Nazi round-up of 1944 -which aimed at destroying the economy of the hood by sequestering all men- women were left alone in the neighborhood, and they needed to work hard to take care of it. As history shows, they didn’t give up, becoming the proud soul of Quadraro resistance.
Still on the same topic is the next mural by the Mexican artist Malo Farfan who represented two opposed yet complementary figures: yin and yang, man and woman, death and life, a skull (the men sequestered by Nazi troops) and an antelope (the women who stayed and fought for their neighbourhood).
Next to them we found the mural by the Kazakhstan artist Dilkabear and Paolo Petrangeli, a first time experience in many ways: not only it was the first time that the two artists worked together, but also their first mural ever, as they usually work as illustrators. The artwork represents a kid playing the carillon and using her imagination to transform those noises into extraordinary objects (that’s so me, by the way!).
The last artwork on Via dei Lentuli is by Gio Pistone, who painted the watchmen of the tunnel protecting locals walking through it. The sentence “ai pensieri liberi, alle paure, agli amori volanti nel passaggio tra due tempi” (to free thoughts, to fears, to love flying between two times) refers to the use of the tunnel as a shelter from bombings as well as from prying eyes during WW2.
At the other side of the tunnel there is a work by Mr. Thoms: here the cartoonist sprayed a figure sucking in bottles, street signs and more street objects. His mouth is also the entrance to the street art district: like Alice entering Wonderland we were sucked in by this huge mouth and headed back to Old Quadraro (Quadraro Vecchio), where the majority of murals is located.
The next artwork was painted independently, as a wish of the repair shop’s owner who knew the street artist Alessandro Sardella. The colourful façade attracts the visitor with its bright colours reminding of Mexican houses.
Behind the corner of Grandma Bistrot, there is a mural by Jim Avignon, which is perhaps the most famous wall in Quadraro. Avignon honoured not only the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, but Art itself, represented as a naked female figure, a Goddess. Not a whatever Goddess, though the streets painted on her body make her the street art Venus!
Another famous mural is just on the other side of the street: painted by Beau Stanton, who was taking part in the Project as Ron English’s assistant and decided to stay longer in Rome to paint a wall by himself. It shows a skull representing the Nazi round-up from which life, in the form of a tree, originates.
The next mural is Ron English’s Temper Tot, a very muscular baby ready to cry. The background is very soft, simple and extremely two-dimensional. Therefore the two main characters, Temper Tot and Mickey Mouse (who is wearing a gas mask to point out to world pollution), are coming out from the wall in all their three-dimensional power.
On Via dei Quintili there is a mural by the French artist Veks Van Hillik who shows his love for nature through two anthropomorphic frogs. With a precision that only a professional tattooist can have, he painted a mesmerising wet effect on frogs’ skin, adding a mysterious binary code above them, incomprehensible yet representative of the most widespread language in our times.
We carried on along Via dei Quintili until a stunning mural painted by the Irish artists Fin DAC depicting an Asian geisha -to speak against the exploitation of the female body.
Before saying goodbye, we reached Daniele Tozzi’s calligram representing his artistic and personal growth from writing art (on the left) to street art (on the right). The sentence “il concetto resta estraneo per te se non hai il codice” (the concept is unknown to you if you don’t have the code) is from a famous rap song about graffiti art by Kaos One.
Find these murals (and many more!) in my Rome Travel & Street Art Map!
Unrequested prologue: Being an exceptionally warm and sunny December morning, I had a walk at the Appian Way Regional Park (also among my Top 10 off-the-beaten path spots in Rome, by the way). Here are a few pics of the ancient aqueducts: