The murals as a form of denunciation of the ancient ills of Sardinia

In one of our recent articles we spoke about the artist Pinuccio Sciola and hinted at the movement of muralism, which the artist himself introduced in Sardinia, and precisely in San Sperate, his country of origin, in 1968.

San Sperate is a small town in the province of Cagliari known in particular for its recent history, made of sculptures, sound stones and, precisely, for the famous murals of San Sperate, more than for its ancient history. Although the country enjoys an important past, with an ancient historic center and numerous findings that testify to possible settlements already in the eighteenth century BC, it is for the most recent works of art scattered throughout the country that San Sperate is known and admired by all.

The history of the murals of San Sperate

In 1968, thanks to the work undertaken by Sciola, born and lived in San Sperate, the town received the nomination of “Country-Museum”. A real open-air museum, free and always available to visitors who decide to walk through its streets to discover and admire the hidden works in every corner of the country.

The artist’s journey began in 1966, whitening the walls of the houses of the village and then repainting them, representing scenes of daily life and rural tradition.

Later, more or less renowned national and international artistswere invited to decorate the walls from the village with their own works.

Thanks to this initiative, walking in the village today is a marvel.

The murals of San Sperate are known and studied as real works of art, which blend perfectly with the traditions of the village, with sculptures and monuments that contribute to making the country simply unique.

We speak of at least 400 works, made with different techniques, from waterproof colors, to graffiti and numerous mixed techniques.

The hidden meaning of the murals

Since their first appearance, the murals become a means available to artists and the population to convey a real cultural and political resistance.

In Orgosolo in ’68, for example, the “Circolo di Orgosolo” organized a mobilization against the Italian State project to transform 366,000 hectares of forest and pastures into “Gennargentu National Park”; the population condemns the Indian reserve logic that animates the design.

In the following years, other forms of protest take shape to safeguard Sardinian culture and territory, and from the posters for these struggles arise the ideas for the murals.

The murals by Pasquale Buesca denounce the centuries-old ills afflicting the island: the drought affecting animals and pastures, jail and emigration.

A poem still accompanies painting:

We’ll all be back together one day
500,000 screams like a single scream,
will cut the silent sky of Sardinia.

Other murals commemorate heroic figures of the Sardinian resistance: the unknown revolutionary G.M. Angioy who headed an army of shepherds and peasants marching from Sassari to the garrisons of Cagliari (1796) and who died exiled in Paris. Several murals recall the prestigious figure of Lussu, father of Sardinianism and advocate of the autonomy of the island. The murals that decorate the side wall of the Orgosolo library draw Lussu among its peasants with the Sardinian flag of the four Moors behind it.

A series painted by Francesco del Casino and still by the students of the middle school recall the calvary of the Sassari Brigade in World War I, the founding of the Sardinian movement, the socialist militancy and the telegram that Lussu sent to the population of Orgosolo for the Pratobello struggle.

From Orgosolo, another center of diffusion, the murals expand to the whole Barbagia.

The Barbagia is still today the wildest and most unknown part of Sardinia.

The Barbaric culture preserves the institution of the great pastoral family s’erreu, self-sufficient, headed by su mannu, the elderly father who administers the assets and directs the work. Pastoralism is the occupation from which the survival of the barbaricini has depended for centuries.

Recently appeared also feminist murals: among them the one in Corso Repubblica, in Orgosolo where the words: “Women united for emancipation and liberation and a real equality in the family and in the world of work” is united with the memory of the distant 8 March 1908 when many women locked up in the factory died in New York. Sardinian women refuse on su ziu the husband chosen by families and the ways of obedience and dependence within the family.

In Ogliastra and Campidano, Sardinian themesare added: painting tells the violence of industrial settlements “anomalous bodies, castles of salvation, soon transformed into infected buboes, which soften the life of the village” (Ottana, Sarroch).

They tell the violence of theacculturation of the Italian school that has always welcomed with the presumption of cultural supremacy the world of knowledge of the pastor, his musical expressions, his poetry and his language.

The school imposed on the Sardinians, while abounds in studies on the major and minor poets and Italian artists, does not let us know almost nothing of the physical and economic geography of our island and also leaves us in total ignorance of our history. Sardinian universities lack professorships of Sardinian language and literature.

The desire to reinforce one’s culture is accompanied by a complaint against the concrete sea of ​​the plastic havens of coastal tourist villages, mountains of industrial waste and discharges, arson attacks to extort building permits on protected land, hasty reforestation with exotic varieties (cedars of Lebanon, Australian pines) that create artificial and hybrid environments.

The Carbonia painter. Gigi Taras, has painted on the walls of the market in Terralba (Oristano) the drama of a hypothetical nuclear explosion (in Sardinia there are twenty bases N.A.T.O. with the relative deposits of ammunition, fuels, arsenals and batteries).

He tells us:

The mural tries to summarize and symbolically denounce the passive attitude of our people towards the various forms of colonization as they are imposed from the outside … the portrait of a society made passive with respect to the choices of power. One of these choices is represented precisely by the nuclear reactor that can explode and determine death and destruction.

The murals also enter the school world, with the awareness of the teachers of art education, with the establishment of refresher courses, with the meeting of painters with the students.


Sardinian murals

“Ajò” Magazine – Year I / No. 1 March 1980

Report to the public debate of Baunici 14/5/1969

From: “Fikide-Est arveskendhe …” / Frantene pros’indhipendhentzia de sa Sardinia-Bennarzu 1979

Interview for “Sa republica sarda”

“Su populu sardu”- istiu 1979

And now, after having told you the history of Sardinian muralism, you enter into the details of the meaning of the murals and their function of denouncing the evils of our beautiful land, as well as telling the traditions and life of our people, what about a Tours in these museum countries?!