The Cagli Project
About the Project Authors Subjects Cagli Partners Faculty Contact
Marco Mezzolani Expresses Himself Through Graffiti


Graffiti artist Marco Mezzolani has perfected his technique into one that is so aesthetically pleasing that anyone who sees it forgets they are looking at a graying stucco wall.

Known to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several days on one piece, Mezzolani -—Mesh to his artist friends — splashes an array of spray paint to transform drab walls into a street museum of vibrant, lyrical, illegal, awe-inspiring works of art.

“When I first saw painting, I felt this passion that filled me completely.” Mezzolani said.

Looking at his lanky six-foot-three-inch frame and lucid blue eyes, Mezzolani, 27, hardly passes for the delinquent gangster wannabes often associated with the scrawled markings alongside major highways and the backs of churches. His markings are different.

Mezzolani is an artist who has created works across Europe and participated in international graffiti contests in Germany and London.

His pieces are known to encompass huge spaces. Mezzolani has painted completely over sections of walls, measuring from the length of an SUV to the length of a swimming pool.

What he requires for these extensive projects is a little time to plan what he wishes to create — often thought of during dinner and drawn on a napkin or placemat — and a few containers of paint. Simpler pieces require about five cans of base paint and a few cans of detail paint.

His art is easy to pick out. His use of bubble lettering and the sleek movement of ebony and aqua shades to mask his artist name in twisted lettering are unique within the chaos of color from the other works.

A flux of teals, fuchsias and fiery reds blending fluidly together, Mezzolani’s pieces are anything but crude images.

Marco Mezzolani and one of his original designs.
"A flux of teals, fuchsias, and fiery reds blending fluidly together, Mezzolani's pieces are anything but crude images."

Graffiti, a tradition born out of the early hip hop era, has branched out into two forms: graffiti, an intricate layout of design images, and tagging, simple spray writing that has plagued public domains for decades now.

The work of “taggers,” dubbed the “ New Generation” by Mezzolani, is found throughout Cagli. Evidence of the New Generation can be seen everywhere, from the walls of people’s homes to the doors around the town’s main piazza.

Noticeable for their monochromatic design and lack of intricate detail, these pieces take around five minutes and are merely markings.

“Kids today, they don’t plan anything; they just spray to put something on the wall,” Mezzolani said. “ It’s ugly. It isn’t art.”

Introduced to graffiti art at 14, Mezzolani spent hours practicing lines and shading, poring over sketchbooks and examining other pieces found around town. It was months before he let himself near a wall.


A design done by Mezzolani


The Cagli community has come to know Mezzolani’s pieces as art. Restaurants and clothing stores are adorned with creations of his imagination, bold colors shining underneath blazing lights that add to their magnificence.

Lilliput, a children’s clothing store in Cagli, hired Mezzolani to paint cartoon-style children on the walls of the store’s showroom, adding pizzazz to the originally dull area and offering a unique spin to the interior.

“It’s nice to have something to look at; it gives the store a fun look,” said shopper Maria Falcinelli.

Although at first Mezzolani was blamed for all graffiti misdeeds found within the medieval walls of the quiet town, with his evolution from simple designer to magnificent full-wall artist, his work has become so well known and respected that he no longer remains at the top of the suspect list down at the stazione di polizia.

“Mesh is number one in all Cagli,” says Luca Toscani, a Cagli resident and longtime friend of Mezzolani’s.

"...Mezzolani spent hours practicing lines and shading, pouring over sketchbooks and examiming other pieces found around town."
"Mesh" is Mezzolani's tag name

Travel out of Old Cagli and into New Cagli, and it’s an entirely different world. On what is commonly known as the “Wall of Fame,” artists who are serious about their craft paint masterpieces in clouds of fluorescent mists.

Music notes, characters, faces — all sorts of images adorn this stretch of wall. When the wall — a legal graffiti location — becomes full, painters paint over the old images. Here there are paintings upon paintings, layered for decades.

It is at this wall that graffiti gets its roots back. It can be appreciated for its attention to detail, its carefully planned landscaping and use of space. Here it isn’t considered vandalism.

Just as sculptors and portraitists plan out their pieces — their focus, composition, colors, medium — so does Mezzolani. This attention to specifics raises graffiti art to a modern plateau that is consistent with the current pop culture while retaining the calculated delicacy of his art.

“I do graffiti to continue a tradition. By painting I keep the hip hop era alive,” says Mezzolani.

Closeups of a Mezzolani design
"I do graffiti to continue a tradition. By painting I keep the hip hop era alive."

An example of traditional graffiti done by Mezzolani






Story by Jana Konys


Web page by Joanna Walsh


Photos by Jacque Bailey


Video by Omar Alfonso