Multiple works by Luis Serrano and Mauro Maugliani / spraypaint

In February 2017, multiple paintings were attacked with spraypaint while on view at Rome’s Galleria L’Opera. Four men (three of them masked) entered the gallery space during viewing hours and painted the works before rushing out; though they were seen by a student assistant on-site, they remain unidentified. 

The exhibition on view, “Trialogo,” had been the subject of controversy due to the content of the works on view, which took on issues surrounding the Church. Maugliani’s canvas, for instance, featured a woman wearing a clerical collar, while “Si, Quiero,” a series of photographs by Gonzalo Orquin, had drawn the ire of the Vatican for featuring images of same-sex couples kissing in various churches.

Only days prior to the attack, the Vicariate of Rome, part of the Vatican, threatened the gallery with legal action over Orquin’s photographs, which it deemed offensive. In response, Orquin decided to cover the photographs himself, hiding them behind black cardboard while black crosses stood beneath as a silent protest against censorship. The four assailants, unable to find the photos, attacked the paintings instead.

Christopher Schreck