«The great artist of tomorrow will go underground».[1] This is what Marcel Duchamp imagined about the future of art that in his opinion had to go underground. The great artist of tomorrow would work in the underground. However, Giacomo prefers the surface of the roads in Rome, his home town, to the underground- those roads that lead to nowhere or are blocked or take people where the roads themselves want.

These are the roads where streetlights, rather than controlling traffic, are “visual enchantments”[2], they stay there to recall to those waiting for the green light that time goes by in a city blocked in time.

In Giacomo’s stories this city appears in all its surreality, a city that exists but that at the same time does not seem to be real. The road is his script. The story is there, at the first crossing round the corner; indeed the plot of his stories develops with his drawings. “It is as if you are walking in the streets and you don’t know what will happen to you”, says Giacomo.

The plot develops naturally, with the typical underground spontaneity that Giacomo makes surface together with the lack of a pre-established script and following daily life, among the wrinkles of true experience.

Waiting to no avail for a bus that doesn’t stop, an argument about the seat – these may be the starting points of Giacomo’s plot. When you least expect it, the plot may do a U-turn and turn out in an unexpected way. This is what may happen in the unpredictable city of Rome, as unpredictable as the mood of its citizens, in particular of its commuters.


Giacomo Calderoni was born in Rome on 14th March 1998. Since he was a boy he spray painted walls in a little shop in the area of Piazza Bologna in Rome. Graduated from high school in Figurative Arts at Liceo Ripetta in Rome, always interested in graffiti and street art, he became an urban artist in 2014. He painted various walls in the streets  of Rome and decorated various places. At the same time he developed more and more his interest in illustration and comics. He produced his first comics, a 15-page short-story, in 2014 and his second one ("Stornellos") in 2015. The third one, “Shelter”, an extraordinary story set in the streets  of Rome received an honorable mention at the first Biennale dei Licei Artistici in 2016.

His next comics is being produced in UltraBlu. It is his most complex and challenging comic book and it will be published in fall 2018.

Termini station in Giacomo’s comics plays a pivotal role. Those who get there do not know what will happen next and they will probably come out deeply changed, as it can be easily imagined. You may try to light a cigarette, even though you do not smoke, just as an excuse to let a bus in delay enter the scene- we are in a comic set in Rome by Giacomo.  

 From the walls along the street to the paper sheet it’s just a short step. From his recent past as a writer he takes his fresh and skillful usage of the colours that he chooses in his comics with full and uniform backgrounds. The simplicity of flat colours and the immediate contrast they can create make the page easy to be read, with no interruptions, one page after the other. And if graffiti have to come out of the wall, here comics get out of the page like a colour from its tube.

 This is a kind of “Art for all”, to put it in Giacomo’s words, referring to what he would like his work could be; from graffiti painted on a wall along the street in a direct relation with the city and its people, to comics that people may read at home- this is the precondition. Not “all roads lead to the ‘same’ Rome”, there are many different cities around the corner- this is what his souvenir postcards together with the skyline of every single neighbourhood show.

 The city Giacomo draws is at the same time his setting and his script: it is the building of a realistic space where elements of street furniture, e.g. traffic lights, street lamps, road signs and drinking fountains, reveal in the plot the ironic and fantastic side of reality.

 Rome, with its different districts, is transformed by its inhabitants and vice versa, in a sort of dynamic interdependence. Palaces, villas, famous and less famous gardens- all these images, together with the plot of Giacomo’s stories are merely a peg to talk always about the same topic, namely the city of Rome and what Romans do, through a very personal lens, in an entertaining way, and always adding something new to what we believe we know very well and have seen many times.

Jasmina Mulalic

[1] «Il grande artista di domani andrà sottoterra» è la frase conclusiva di un celebre intervento di Marcel Duchamp in una conferenza a Filadelfia nel 1961. Il termine underground fu utilizzato per la prima volta dall’artista in tale occasione per determinare il significato di una cultura in antitesi a quella dominante regolata da logiche di mercato.

[1] Nel film La grande bellezza di Paolo Sorrentino, l’accensione del primo semaforo installato a Milano è la grande bellezza per un vecchio cineasta che ricorda, così, la sua prima sensazione di «incanto» visivo. In un’altra scena il protagonista si ritrova improvvisamente di fronte un semaforo nel nulla, un riferimento del regista ai «tanti strazi urbanistici di Roma».