Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Jessica Stewart: Street Art Stories ROMA

Jessica Stewart, the talented photographer behind, has just published a remarkable small book, Street Art Stories ROMA,  that she describes as "The first book about the Rome street art scene!"

The "street art scene" is, in essence, graffiti.  RST is a great fan of Rome's graffiti, with more than 30 posts that mention it, and many that feature it (see some links below).  It's difficult in Rome to appreciate the "good" graffiti - that approaching art - given the ubiquitous "tags" that, frankly, dirty up the city.

Sten and Lex, working in Garbatella in 2010
By focusing on 30 street artists, Stewart draws our attention to the artistry of the form, distinguishing the work of the artists, and describing some of the artists' changes over time.
She acknowledges Rome stalwarts, like Sten and Lex, who do commissioned pieces (even at MACRO) and whom we have lauded in our posts, and she introduces us to a few of the artists who are active currently in the Centro, like Hogre (below, left), works of whom we found this week in Monti.

Tags.  Not fine art. 

By allowing us to distinguish and appreciate these artists, Stewart brings shape and a sense of wonder to Rome's street art scene, making it possible to separate the genuinely artistic from the wall "tags" that do little more than mark up the city's buildings.  We should point out that Stewart's book targets stencil and paste-up art almost to the exclusion of spray painting and use of painted letters and text that we consider the more basic graffiti.

The text runs along breathlessly, as Stewart provides the chronology of her involvement in the street art scene. She's more of a chronicler than an analyzer of street art.  But some analysis there is, and she's attentive to the making of the street art and the reactions of some neighbors.

And, Stewart's may be the first book, but Maria Theresa Natale has a long-standing Web site (in Italian - on graffiti internationally.  Natale focuses more on the painted scripts, as one can see from her Rome photos:

There are several current exhibitions of street art in and near Rome, obviously acknowledging it has entered the legitimate artworld - perhaps to its detriment.

A portion of Alice Pasquini's "Cave of Tales" at the Casa
"Cave of Tales" is a powerful meditation on urban life from one of Stewart's more painterly artists, Alice Pasquini.  The show, through 30 August, is at Casa dell'Architettura in piazza M. Fanti (the ex-aquarium - a great building, btw).  See the bottom of the site's Home page for hours.  The exhibit is in the basement (floor -1) and one accesses it from the elevator inside the portiere's office just on the left as you enter the building.

The town of Gaeta, south of Rome, has its own street art festival: This year's version included a week of just women street artists, among them Pasquini.

"Urban Contest Gallery 2012" has an exhibition open every day (noon - 7 p.m.) at via di Pietralata 159, at the ex-Lanificio complex.  The current exhibit by Biodpi is titled "I am Anna Magnani." It merits a visit if you can get yourself out there. Don't miss Pasquini's artful trailer in the courtyard of this ex-wool manufacturing facility.

ADDED (10 May) - C215 (Christian Guemy) at Wunderkammern Gallery in Portonaccio through 24 May.  Sabina de Gregori’s new book “C215” (Castelvecchi), with the participation of Jef Aerosol, Obey, Logan Hicks, Martha Cooper, Sten & Lex, and Wooster Collective, will be presented for the occasion.
For the opening Guémy painted walls around Rome, some in collaboration with NUfactory.

Address: via Gabrio Serbelloni 124, Roma.
Opening hours: wednesdays to saturdays from 5pm to 8pm.
Or by appointment at +39-3498112973

And then there's Greco's angry nurse (there are two, actually), on the wall of the Fascist-era post office on via Taranto. 

Stewart's 100+ page book has text in both Italian and English and over 100 photos, each identifying the artist (no mean feat itself).  Street Art Stories ROMA is available at the Feltrinelli bookstores (look for a special display), as well as  List price: Euro 14, Mondo Bizzarro Press.

Some prior RST  posts on Rome graffiti:

A primer on Rome graffiti (from 2009):

A post on the 2010 Garbatella street art exhibition, including outdoor installations:

Graffiti at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, and in Rome:

Deciphering neo-fascist graffiti on Rome's walls:

And a few specific artists, locations, and types:

Refuse trucks:

Via Appia Antica:

For more, search "graffiti" on the blog.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Congratulations to Jessica!! Nothing is more overlooked and yet more contemporary than street art. And everything that Giorgio does at the -1 gallery is smart and fun.