Monday, 9 June 2014

Street Art in Rome, a walk around Ostiense

Some of the urban, negletted and usually "sad" quartieri of Rome --those that aren't included in your touristic map of the city, I mean, are experiencing a colourful yet caustic invasion in the last years.
It all started with the Outdoor Urban Art Festival, developed with the fantastic venture of the Museo di Urban Art di Roma and it's more than vital with the recent series of events, conferences and "live exhibitions" of 999CONTEMPORARY, this time even supported by institutions like the public transportations of Rome, usually the enemy #1 of what graffiti or street art mean for the concept of urban cleanliness, which is still a scourge for the city.

So, profitting of a lovely "cultural trail" provided by the website APPasseggio, I decided to "explore" the quartiere Ostiense by looking up its walls, starting an ideal walk from the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls to the Pyramid of Cestius, passing through social centers, illegally occupied houses and abandoned markets, grabbing the shouts (and the cheers) that the artworks were there to get my attention with.

So, getting off at the underground stop of Basilica San Paolo, the first murale that I managed to spot was "Il piccone demolitore e risanatore" by Gaia.
A tribute to De Chirico, and a disturbing interpretation of the EUR, a quartiere that the artist described as "coldly and uselessly beautiful".

--Looks like the local writers didn't approve. Oh, well!

After this, I arm myself with courage and I try to face the infamous crossroad of Viale Guglielmo Marconi so to reach the abandoned dog track decorated by the caustic "Contro la Cattiva Politica" by Blu.
The gigantic trompe l'oeil is a parody of the famous Fountain of Trevi, where the supreme God is the "Average Italian", nourished and exalted by drugs, corruptions, violence and all that contributes to let us act with our "stomach" instead of our "brain":

I walked back to the Basilica, entering the University area of Roma3 where I found the work of Sam3, "Silhouette".
It's the poetic interpretation of a nocturnal, primitive landscape. The rabbit jumping away from the human figures reminded me of the Japanese folktale about the rabbit living on the Moon...

I kept on walking, and I met the fun characters of Agostino.
The walking legs refer to how the wall faces a densely populated street, inhabited by universitary students in the morning and party animals at night... I wonder if the artist took inspiration from one of the stolid expressions of the students that I met during my walk for the characters that he painted...

I turned on the right, and after a few step I met with the Officine Fotografiche, decorated by the intense yet dreamy "Citazioni Calligrafiche" by Brus.
Famous quotations and inspirations about photography decorate the building in an elegant exercise of calligraphy.

I felt motivated in my exploration.
As I got back on Via Ostiense and I kept walking, I stumbled on "Supervised Independence" of Rero, that amused me with its honest impact:

I crossed the road to take a good look at the "Automobili Incatenate sull'Alexis", again by Blu.
It refers to the death of Alexis Grigoropolous in Athens during the riots of 2008.
I can easily face the fact that the political ideas of this artist are A MILLION miles away from mine, but his works still manage to leave me breathless.
I love how the portrait of Alexis is "framed" as to look like a votive, religious icon.

I let out a sigh because of the heat and I continue my exploration. From afar I spot a bit of "Behind and in front of the Wall" by Clemens Brehr, decorating the ATAC building-- Too far to attack under Rome's merciless heat, I'm satisfied with this puny picture from the wrong perspective:

I started to explore the tiny roads inside the quartiere, I found "Primary" by Darek Bruno:
Yeah, nice colours.

As I kept the left while walking, I couldn't help but to notice some flyers glued to the wall.
Poems of the "Movement for the Emancipation of Poetry". Guys, you have my sympathy and I won't deny you a link.

Ok, I finally reached "Paint over the Cracks" by Kid Acne.
In my poetic attempt to let the Gazometro enter the picture, I didn't pay attention to a pole covering part of the piece. Nice job, "Rome's nipper".

The next building is partially covered by the abstract decoration of Momo:

Looking at all those lines can get quite enchanting.

I got to the next road, and I found "The Wall of Fame" by JB Rock.
He decided to portray the personalities and celebrities who had an impact in his life and his growth as a human being and an artist-- The guys are exposed in alphabetical order, from Alighieri Dante to Zorro:

On the other side of the road, "Black and White Power" by Sten Lex.

At this point I got lost for a bit, reached no-laws lands, then I managed to get back on track once I found my way to Via del Porto Fluviale.
There I found the beautiful "Nessuno" by Axel Void.
I'm overwhelmed by the grace and poetry of this mysterious nape.

I struggled to take a good picture because of the traffic jam, but here's "Il Nuotatore" by Agostino:

Then, as I keep walking ahead, I'm finally in the presence of the majestic "Fronte del Porto", again by Blu.
I took my time to look at all the puny details and to take pictures of everything, gaining disappointed glances from the locals:

After this massive contemplation, it's time to turn back into Via delle Conce and visit the first underpass of the train station.
For my absolute disappointment I see that there are some works on the structure, making my report even more difficult... As many murales are covered by the protections (and ruined!), it's difficult to take pictures... But not impossible!
This underpass is decorated by Hitnes and Lucamaleonte: this mix of demonic, mithological creatures and a medieval herbarium is called "Catalogo":

--A friend of mine living nearby described this work as "disturbing". I can totally see why.
But its charm is undeniable.

I got back on the main street, to check out the second underpass for today, the one dominating Via Ostiense.
Here's a mix of murales and works by various artists.
The tributes to personalities resting in the close-by Acatholic Cemetery by Ozmo, the classical visions of Gaia, geometrical fantasies, urban tarots, war shadows and other assorted delicaties (unfortunately most of them ruined by the usual "random pisser" who couldn't help but spraying on the wall) by Moneyless, Matina Martini, Andreco, 2501, Tellas, Herbert Baglione and Gaucholadri:

I let out another sigh, this time from different reasons than the Roman sun, and got back to Via delle Conce to see the mysterious characters of Herbert Baglione:

Intrigued, I start to imagine a story told by the anonymous yet talkative shadows-- But maybe it's just the sun finally getting to fry the last working bit of my brain.

I turn around, and I see another mysterious stencil of Sten Lex:
I kept walking around for a little bit, aimless, filled with inspiring visions... I had some pizza filled with cicory and green tea at Marcellino, then I got back to my walk...


  1. Wow Eleonoara, davvero un bel viaggio.
    E soprattutto, una preziosa mappa, per chi come me è apassionato di fotografia...


    1. Sì, veramente molto divertente :D !! Tra lì'altro bellissimo quando nel sottopassaggio di Ostiense mi sono incrociata con un altro fotografo ed è scattato lo sguardo di fratellanza XDDDD
      Ci sono moltissimi altri murales, non solo a Ostiense (alcuni non sono riuscita a trovarli!) ma anche a Garbatella e in zona Testaccio (oltre che al Quadraro), purtroppo essendo aggiunti in continuazione con varie iniziative non sono riuscita a trovare una mappatura completa >_< !!