ITALY: Orgosolo’s wonderful Picasso-like and protest-laden Murales

Fabulous travel photographer and world explorer Praxinho aka Praxi Deluxe brought some very nice photo material from his travels to the Italian island Sardinia. Thanks a lot for the contribution!

In the mountains of Sardinia is the small picturesque village of Orgosolo. And it is indeed picturesque that it resembles a small art gallery. The streets and houses are completely decorated with fascinating wall paintings, with the so-called “Murales”. The works are often interspersed with the content of the protest or with paroles and slogans, the motifs also often show political or historically important scenes. But of course there are also a lot of other themes and motifs involved and time by time some new artwork is getting added.

Very interesting is the existing painting style, which at first has little to do with conventional graffiti, but can rather be compared with a canvas work on house walls. Many works have abstract elements and are reminiscent of Picasso, and there are parallels to the great works of art of contemporary history. This place is a small artistic jewel, where lovers of urban art will have a real pleasure.

The very first painting mentioned in the Murals was drawn in 1968 by the anarchist Milanese group Dioniso in Orgosolo. The founder was Francesco del Casino from Siena who had settled in Orgosolo after seeing the film “Banditi a Orgosolo”. Casino was close to the Communist Party of Italy and the film touched and inspired him deeply. This film was shot by director Vittorio De Seta in 1961 in Orgosolo and shows a shepherd who is involved in a cattle theft and is accused of murdering a carabiner, which is why he has to start a bandit’s life in the mountains. And Casiono also started a venture. In 1975 he begann doing fantastic paintings together with students on the walls of the houses in Orgosolo. The first occasion was the 30th Anniversary of the guerrilla struggle against fascism.

Actually those styles of paintings began on Sardinia in the rather unknown village of San Sperate. They spread and other places were painted too. The mural paintings in Orgosolo initially expressed the protest against the planned NATO training ground on Pratobello. The protest is also directed against the Milan Group leaders, who have embezzled the funds of the construction plan for Sardinia. A lot of recent images comment on world politics. One one painting Helmut Schmidt is referred to as an “expert in the matter of state murder” because of Stammheim. Another one is about the victory of the Cambodian and Vietnamese fighters against the USA. The number of innocent victims for the fall of Saddam Hussein is questioned. Other images represent the simple shepherd and village life, advocate for the preservation of the Sardinian language or even include advertising messages. It is definitely an open magnificent gallery of its own style, with historic value and filled up with messages.

Alfredo Niceforo’s studies on crime in Sardinia are also mocked by an ironic mural. Many of the now more than 120 murales are stylistically oriented towards cubism in the style of Picasso’s Guernica, but there are also more realistic paintings among them. In addition to Francesco del Casino, the Murales were designed by the artist and self-taught artist Pasquale Buesca, who also lived in Orgosolo. Involved in some of the artworks have been as well the women’s group “Le Api” and the Milanese artist Massimo Cantoni. Despite some damage mostly due to house alterations or weather conditions, all murales are still largely very well preserved. A day trip to Orgosolo is highly recommended if you like this kind of art.

Photographer: Praxinho aka Praxi Deluxe



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