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San Lorenzo Street Art I: Stickers and Stencils

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 | 8 comments





After my introduction to San Lorenzo yesterday, I bring you the first of two posts about street art. It was certainly the thing that overwhelmed me most as I walked around for a few hours. Though I see it often in Rome, there really was a density to it all through the streets of San Lorenzo. I’m breaking it down into two posts, this first one focusing on sticker (or poster) and stencil art. One need only do a google search for Banksy to see that street art is making a real breakthrough into the contemporary art scene and here in Rome you’ll see a lot of prolific artists all over the place. These artists each have their own style, whether it be a specific technique or an image recycled in numerous ways. One thing I see over and over again is a lot of whimsy and humor used by the street artists here. For instance, I love the poster of someone “painting” the side of a building. A friend of mine told me his favorite image by Hogre (a very prolific stencil artist here, you’ll find his stuff all over the city) with the phrase “Cerca dentro te stesso” (Search inside yourself) and showed a person doing an archaeological excavation inside their own nose!

Who are some of the key street artists in Rome for stickets and stencils? Mind you, I’m not an expert by any means, but some of the names I see all over the place are Hogre, UNO, {X}, Urka, and Alt97. You can actually see work by UNO and Alt97 k in an old posting I did in Monti (last photo). They’ll often work together and place stuff on the same wall, as a kind of collaborative, which you can see in the second photo. I also want to point out for people who may not be into this stuff, that you’ll never see this type of street art on monuments of any sort in the city. I think there is a lot of love and respect for the city by the artists and I can’t imagine any of them ever defacing something like the Colosseum, for instance. So, the next time you are walking around Rome, pay a little closer attention and I’m sure you’ll see these images all around you. Ones you didn’t even realize were there.

For your viewing pleasure I’m posting two YouTube videos. The first shows the artists in action, putting up some posters in San Lorenzo. The second is a new segment on an exhibit several of the artists did last year in a bar in San Lorenzo. In this instance the art came off the streets and indoors, allowing them to use new surfaces and media to display their graphic arts.

Tomorrow we’ll touch on painted murals….stay tuned! If you’re craving more in the meantime, check out the Street Art in Rome Flickr group.

8 Comments

  1. BIG UP for {X}

  2. These are great! The first one especially made me chuckle.

  3. these are awesome J. I cannot wait for more..very artistic, truly!

  4. sorry…i have a real problem with graffiti in rome – there’s nothing romantic or heroic about defacing the city. okay, so they don’t spray the colosseum! well – that’s a relief… they DO spray the front of the building where i live, sadly, and cover private and public property all over the city! i find it utterly depressing…
    http://www.romebuddy.com/warnsabout/graffiti.html

  5. Hi Debs – Thanks for sharing your opinion. I knew in posting about this that I’d get differing points of view which I appreciate. Personally, do I differentiate between the “Valeria Ti Amo” scrawled on the front of a building and the stuff that I’m showing. Yes, I personally do, but that’s just me. The article you linked certainly shows the opposing argument, but I think it’s a bit narrow to say it’s a “Rome” issue. I lived in London and saw graffiti there as well. I’ve traveled all over Europe and in any urban environment I’ve seen graffiti. I think the offense at defacing buildings that are hundreds or thousands of years old is a kind of Anglo-Saxon romanticized version of the city. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of Italians who don’t like the graffiti, but I just think they aren’t offended for the same reasons.

    I should also point out that graffiti itself has been around for thousands of years and is sometimes used as historical record. Inside the Villa Farnesina you’ll find graffiti left during the Sack of Rome in 1520. One also finds plenty of “ancient” graffiti still preserved in Pompeii. Anyway, my whole point that the entire form of street art shouldn’t be written off, as there are some amazing works happening and personally I would rather look at that than a concrete slab somewhere, but that’s just me and everyone has their own view on the subject.

  6. hi jessica!
    “I think the offense at defacing buildings that are hundreds or thousands of years old is a kind of Anglo-Saxon romanticized version of the city.”

    no…that’s not it! i hate grafitti anywhere in the world! it’s not hip or clever – it’s vandalism and mostly it’s just BAD art! i’ve been living in italy full time for over fifteen years now and would say things have got steadily worse here and it is symptomatic of a general malaise and urban decay in a city with huge problems.
    btw – ALL my italian friends hate the grafitti as well!
    check out martina’s blog – improve rome!
    http://www.miglioraroma.com/
    BUT…i do LOVE this city…and don’t plan to leave anytime soon!

  7. Ciao Debs – Well, like I said, differing view points. I have a lot of friends, Italian or otherwise who enjoy it, so it really just depends. As far as bad art, you could say that about anything really. That’s the great thing about art, it’s all subjective. Something I think is fantastic, another person thinks is garbage. However, you might not like the blog for the next few days because there’s more street art coming up! Blame it on San Lorenzo šŸ˜‰

  8. ha ha! go for it girl…that’s what’s so great about your blog …you record everything you see about this city! i promise to shut up now and let you get on with photographing it šŸ˜‰

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