Filipino artist bags the highest award in Florence Biennale

Published November 14, 2021, 4:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

Michael Villagante’s work is conferred with the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award, besting more than 1,000 art pieces from around the globe

WINNER PINAS Michael Villagante with his award at the Florence Biennale (The Santingans)

Whether poets, singers, dancers, sculptors, or painters, there is an abundance of artists in the Philippines, where culture and natural beauty abound. Ours is a nation of inspiring and promising talents in the world.  

To mark yet another historical feat for Filipinos this year, artist Michael Villagante has won the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award at the Biennale Internazionale Dell’Arte Contemporanea, popularly known as the Florence Biennale art fair. He is the first-ever Pinoy to receive the distinction, the highest honor at the recently concluded 2021 exhibit.

Held every two years in Florence, Italy, Florence Biennale is among the biggest international contemporary art expos that aim to showcase and also be a space for dialogue among artists. The city boasts of ancient art traditions regarded as the “cradle of Renaissance.” It was founded back in the ’90s by Pasquale and Piero Celona, together with other artists and critics, to serve as a platform for artists, both emerging and established, to present their work independently and for free.

The event transpired from Oct. 23 to 31 in Florence’s Fortezza da Basso, gathering over a thousand artworks and 500 artists from all over the globe.

PANDEMIC IN A CANVAS Michael Villagante’s winning artwork, Pagtahan

Michael achieved his win for his work, Pagtahan, a painting that depicts the current condition of humanity amid an ongoing health crisis. It took Michael three months to finish his winning piece, which features brown faceless figures in a sky backdrop.

‘While the image appears to be all doom and gloom, what Michael wants people to realize is that there is hope and that problems, at the end of the day, will be resolved.’

Michael explains at the Florence Biennale that he tried to tackle several themes relevant to everyday occurrences of our times, taking inspiration from snippets of day-to-day happening and human experiences.

The artwork communicates the turmoil and emotions brought about by the challenges of COVID-19. And while the image appears to be all doom and gloom, what Michael wants people to realize is that there is hope and that problems, at the end of the day, will be resolved.

 
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