Shewolf Queen

Dark green concrete made even more gloomy by a layer of soot and smog and plastered with layers of peeling flyposters is what comes to mind when we think of these two large walls below the GRA on Via di Boccea. But today that is no longer the case.

The torn paper tigers of visiting circuses have been replaced by two huge floating animals: a she-wolf and a rabbit.

These creatures, painted for GRAArt by French artist Veks Van Hillik, swim through empty space and offer an almost mystical experience: we seem to be witnessing the spectacle of two constellations which return to being the fur, flesh and bone creatures they represent. And as we observe them, we also see the instant in which this transformation takes place, the Caravaggesque light striking them from below as though projected from some now-distant earthly atmosphere.

That red-eyed wolf, more ferocious than motherly, is an albino, and therefore an anomaly.

In this large mural, she – who is the symbol of the Eternal City – is transformed into something alien, something other, something discriminated against. As is the Nature that she represents.

In this area, Mother Nature is the Ager Romano, the natural monument wounded by the aesthetically disturbing constructions which have disfigured part of the landscape over the decades.

This imposing albino she-wolf is the queen of that Nature which – like her – agrees to raise we humans who, like ungrateful offspring, continue to injure and deface her every day.

She feeds us (which Veks’ she-wolf does with the ears of wheat emerging from its mouth) and punishes us (the ears of wheat spearing the body of the rabbit).

Veks Van Hillik must have found this tense, agonised and almost expressionistic she-wolf which is a million miles from the iconic sculpture in the Capitoline Museums in the labyrinth of his memory: perhaps in one of his visits to the Louvre he came across the red marble sculpture of the she-wolf from the Borghese Collection, arching her back in pain as she nurses Romulus and Remus. A sculpture which this seems to have returned from Paris to Rome on this wall of the Grande Raccordo Anulare.

David Diva Vecchiato

Work in progress



The area begins from the Via Cornelia, whose origins remain uncertain. One of the hypotheses is that it was commissioned by Caligula so as to be able to reach the imperial gardens – the Horti Agrippinae – more easily. If that were the case, everything here would evoke the dialogue between the city and Nature and would link directly to the presence of the Ager Romano on the Roman territory – a presence which can still be felt in the entire area.

Only the rural area which lies around the city walls and is included in its municipal territory may be defined as Ager Romanus. More than 60,000 hectares have survived until the present day – enough to make Rome the most agricultural municipality in Europe.

With this story, therefore, we will speak of the relationship between the Urbe and its countryside, from the Ager to the herds of livestock which crowded the Forum in the nineteenth century, highlighting the importance that these vast productive areas have had for the city, especially in critical moments of its past.

Today, though, this area has been in part destroyed and in part forgotten, incorporated into desolate suburbs and defended, if it is defended at all, by residents who are usually ignored. Yet the ‘wild’ soul of Rome now seems to reside only here, in parks like those of Cellulosa in Casalotti or in the pine forest which lies not too far from our wall.

In these places, species of wild animals which the expansion of the city seemed to have definitively killed off are beginning to reappear: foxes, owls and in some cases wolves are just some of the animals which have so far been sighted. The presence of nature in the Eternal City is a story in itself and deserves a detailed account in which the most archaic roots of Rome can be found, starting from Lupa, the mother of the city, its symbol and the representation of a warlike soul capable of being both fierce and maternal.


Veks Van Hillik

Veks Van Hillik was born in 1988 in a small village in the South-West of France. Influenced by his elder brothers, he took up drawing at a young age and found his first source of inspiration in the flora and fauna of the nature which surrounded him. Veks later developed his own approach: a dreamlike, surreal style which integrated a range of influences: Gustave Doré, Ingres, Caravaggio, Dalì and Breton are inspirations from the past centuries but, typically of his generation, his work also is also inspired by pop culture, video games, comics, street art and tattoos.  Since his first exhibition in Toulouse (where he now lives and works) in 2010, he has taken part in many exhibitions throughout France. Recently, his work crossed borders and appeared in shows at the MondoPop Gallery in Rome (Italy) in 2012 and Salerno, the Gristle Tattoo Gallery in Brooklyn (New York) and Melbourne (Australia) in 2013. Each of Veks Van Hillik’s paintings or drawings presents itself like an ode to fantasy – a secret window onto his dreams and chimeras, where each scene and character is a subtle mixture of innocence and darkness.