We look at the grey suburbs, the abandoned neighbourhoods, and the illegal buildings. We may think that there is no remedy for urban bleakness, but we are wrong. Street art is not a permanent solution, but it knows how to turn decay into opportunity. This art transforms spaces into joy, colour and social aggregation. In this route, we will discover some of the most inspiring street artworks in the Messina area. Are you ready?
Let’s start from the Ionian coast province: Giardini Naxos. Since 2012, thanks to a Street Art Festival called “Emergence“, several artists have arrived to enrich the town with colourful artworks. The works are mainly on the seafront and the Consolare Valeria street, just behind it. The efforts of the Emergence association focused, above all, on improving the pier that disfigures the bay. The artist Danilo Bucchi has created a masterpiece intending to transform the area into a 21st-century monument. The work’s title is “Per vivere si muore” (to live you die) and is dedicated to the “courage of men who get on a boat and face the unknown”. We have to walk along a wall to see the whole mural. The work covers a wall about 270 metres long and 10 metres high. The sea, alongside, will be with you on this walk.
Let us move northwards to Messina. Before arriving in the centre, stop at Casa Cammarata, the “Castle” of Maregrosso. It is a construction of street art ante litteram. In the 1970s, street art was born in New York, and at the same time, in Messina, Giovanni Cammarata decided to decorate his shack and the neighbouring houses with an unusual style. Giovanni was an ex-soldier, a retired bricklayer, and his art is about phantasmagorical figures, madonnas, nymphs and small African statues (an old souvenir of his years as a soldier). There are very few sculptures left; among these, are two of the three yellow elephants that looked out to sea. In this area, many artists continued with Giovanni’s style. Among them is Poki. The artist has created a mural depicting the third missing elephant. In front of the mural are Cammarata’s portrait and his poetic-artistic manifesto. He used to say: “if we give a paintbrush to a child, he will never pick up a gun”. The artist Kuma artistically reinvented the quote.
Let’s delve into the city. In 2013, the well-known artist Blu created a work entitled “The Hunting of Swordfish”. It expresses a social, civil and cultural denunciation against degradation and is painted on the Port House. Other artists have followed his example. One of the most famous murals is entitled “Without name” by Nemo. It depicts four naked bodies hanging like sheets drying. It is a work dedicated to the Somali athlete Samia Yusuf Omar and to all those who lost their lives in the Mediterranean. The metaphor is extremely powerful: the nudity of the bodies hung out to dry is scandalous, while death drips from the hanging bodies.
The same theme also appears in the colourful work by the Spanish artist Julieta. The artist depicts a crying mermaid surrounded by Sicilian majolica tiles. Seacreative’s mural by Lillo speaks of the hardships of maritime labour. Luca Zamoc‘s work “Giasone and the Dragon” tells about the sea myths. The artwork is made with the city colours (red and yellow) and depicts the Argonaut’s commander searching for the Golden Fleece. Don’t miss “The Hermit crab and the sailor” by Anc and Poki. A giant hermit crab surmounted by the lighthouse represents the city’s symbols. Are you tired? For a rest, buy a ticket and hop on the tram. Enjoy an immersive street art tour through the city. At each platform, you will find a painting created thanks to the efforts of the “Distrart – Distretto d’arte urbana” project. The artworks depict a journey into the myths of Colapesce, Charybdis, the local giants Mata and Grifone, Ulysses and his Sirens.
We leave the town and head east. We reach the last stop on this tour: San Salvatore di Fitalia. This small village in the Nebrodi Mountains is home to two recent gems with an ancient flavour. We are talking about the Caravaggio murals by Andrea Ravo Mattoni. The works are entitled The Supper at Emmaus and The Nativity with Saints Lorenzo and Francesco. The latter painting was stolen by the Mafia in 1969, in Palermo. Mattoni wanted to give this magnificent lost Caravaggio back to Sicily. The two murals are two Renaissance works faithfully reproduced and donated to the community. This one too is street art!