The posters that were removed from public view in Italy this week after being put up as a warning against a communist regime were actually produced by Italian artists and designers.
The posters were removed by a tribunal appointed by the Italian government after a judge ruled they were misleading and offensive.
The tribunal ruled that the posters were a parody of Italian political satire and had been used to promote “an authoritarian government” by “a well-known anti-Communist artist”.
The artist, Michelangelo Trevisan, who has collaborated with other artists in Italy including Stefano Raggi, Leonardo Da Vinci and Stefano Zoncolan, said he was shocked and saddened by the decision.
“I am very sad because the posters represent me, who in a way is a prisoner in Italy, who is a refugee, a refugee of Italy,” he told Italian television station RAI.
“They are a very powerful reminder of the totalitarianism of the state that has been there for 20 years.”
The posters had been put up on walls in Italy’s capital, Rome, and were removed after a ruling by the state prosecutor’s office.
The posters have since been restored to the public domain.
“They were meant to be a warning and an expression of the dangers of a totalitarian regime,” Trevisant said.
“In fact, they were also meant to serve as an example of how people could resist the fascist dictatorship.”
The artwork has been seen by some as a commentary on the recent assassination of former President Silvio Berlusconi, who was a staunch supporter of the government and its political agenda.
Berlusconi was shot dead by an armed man on January 17 in a suicide bombing that was widely seen as a reaction to Berlusconist attempts to remove his government.
He had been on the brink of being forced to step down as prime minister after a referendum in April that the opposition described as a referendum on Berluscone’s role as prime suspect in the killing.
The poster depicts a smiling Berlusco and his wife sitting together at a dinner table, the slogan ‘Berlusco, the son of a bitch’ emblazoned across the front.
A number of other prominent politicians including former prime minister Silvano Monti, former finance minister Silvia Guidi, and current interior minister Matteo Salvini have also appeared in the posters.
“These posters are a reminder that a dictatorship can come from within, it can come by force and, if it is a fascist regime, it will have a similar power of terror,” Treviant said, adding that he believed they were a “warning to other people”.