Think you have seen enough Che Guevara iconography in your life to warrant a revolution to ban it? Dutch-Neapolitan artist Jorit Agoch might just change your mind with his enormously impressive mural of the revolutionary legend, which he has painted across the facades of two social housing blocks in the easterly outskirts of Naples.
Emblazoned on the westerly walls of housing estate Taverna del Ferro, in the impoverished San Giovanni a Teduccio neighbourhood, Agoch has conjured an imposing and almost messianic portrait of the rebellious fighter. Ten stories-high and covering over 700 square-metres of concrete, the rusty-coloured mural breaks the record for the largest ever image of Che Guevara in the world. The rebel’s face is painted in vivid Caravaggio-esque detail, which despite its size, took only 40 days to fully complete this summer. With Agoch’s signature red stripes dashed across both cheeks like Native American tribal markings, Guevara appears primed for battle and on the verge of victoriously reclaiming the streets of Naples with the local residents in tow.
For the provocative artist, who was recently arrested in Israel for painting a portrait of seventeen year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi on the dividing wall in the West Bank, the decision to paint Guevara has its roots in the simplicity of the message. ‘‘Che Guevara is like a lighthouse, a guiding force for all my life decisions” explained Agoch to AgenPress. He was hoping the universally-recognised figure would have a similar impact on the residents of the beleaguered neighbourhood.
So far, his hopes have been fulfilled; speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, a member of the housing estate’s resident committee explained that for them the mural ‘is about encouraging us all to stand up to every type of exploitation and oppression, and to encourage renewed social and political struggle’. The residents even went a step further to support the artist by raising funds from visitors as well as locals to sustain Agoch’s future works, which would continue to expose the much-needed social and architectural regeneration in the area.
With a flick of his paintbrush Agoch’s creative revolution has ignited in San Giovanni a Teduccio, and once again Che Guevara is firmly leading the way.
Words: Sophia Seymour