MANILA, Philippines— Acclaimed Italian painter Francesco Giannini worked for three straight years to finish the newest mural in San Beda Chapel or the Abbey Church of Our Lady of Montserrat on Mendiola Street in San Miguel, Manila.
Believe it or not, besides Italian saints and monks, it has images of Filipino heroes Cory and Ninoy Aquino as well as Saints Pedro Calungsod and Lorenzo Ruiz, among others.
After finishing the mural, Giannini’s creative juices haven’t dried up as he marks his first exhibit in the Philippines from January 13 to January 19 at the Showcase Area, building A of SM Megamall in Ortigas Business District, Mandaluyong City.
The week-long exhibit opens on January 13 at 10:30 a.m. and will be graced by the Italian painter himself.
Born in Barletta, Italy, on February 4, 1942, Giannini studied art at the Higher School of Art in the Sforzesco Castle in Milan under the tutelage of Professors Beltrame, Alfredo Mantica, and Gino Moro completing his artistic formation at the Art Academy of Brera, Milan.
Milan was incidentally where Giannini’s family moved to when he was a child. He has since made Peschiera del Garda, Verona, Italy his home base.
Married to a fellow painter, Anita Gatti, Giannini’s career in visual arts has been both storied and celebrated. In 1980, he was elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts and Graphic Art in Pisa, aside from also being part of the permanent Society of Fine Arts in both Milan and Verona. He credits his continuous formation and techniques in frescoes under Professor Bellomi in Verona.
Having developed a style that veers towards the vibrant and explosive, with his use of various shades of orange and winey tones of deep indigo, all dissolved in a light which seems to break away, Giannini’s works create an impression of mystery, of breathtaking riddles that draw the curious and the art obsessed. It is no wonder that Giannini’s works are coveted by art collectors in Italy and other parts of the world.
Giannini as an artist is also not one to walk away from challenges. He faces it head-on, such as the task of working on vast surfaces, resulting in extraordinary works like the murals in Monza near Milan, and the baptismal font in the parish church of Oliosi near Verona, and the works he has carried out, as a team worker, in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, without ever sacrificing his personal style in both classical and modern techniques.
Suffice to say, Giannini has gone beyond practicing and propagating his art as a mere form of creative expression and an outlet by which to give freedom and accord devotion to his one great passion in life. It may be that Giannini only became a Secular Franciscan, or a member of the Secular Franciscan Order – a community of Catholic men and women who seek to pattern their lives after Christ in the Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi – in March 2013 but way earlier than that, Giannini seems to have already begun a spiritual journey through his art.
In fact, in 2006, while he was restoring murals in the monastery of the Benedictine nuns of San Guisseppe, Assisi he befriended Fr. Aelred Nilo, OSB, who was serving as Chaplain of the nuns while taking his summer break from his Monastic Studies at the Ateneo Sant’Anselmo in Rome.
When Francesco visited Manila in 2009, he persuaded him to do a project for the Manila monastery. Dubbed as the Benedictine Story in the Philippine Islands and composed of seven panels of jute canvas measuring 126 sq m, the massive painting is a fusion of spirituality, artistry and history to which Giannini employed his trademark palette of earthy oranges and celestial blues and neo-Impressionist style.
Rosemary Clay wrote, “In the production of this magnificent work (dare we call it a modern masterpiece) Francesco has perhaps fulfilled all he has ever attempted to achieve in the course of an artistic life covering more than 50 years, availing himself of all his past experience, his creativity, and his God-given artistic fervour and passion.”
Gazing at and owning a piece of Giannini’s inspired artistry is like being part of the whole rigorous process of creating art itself. As Francesco Giannini himself puts it: “If others look at my work and are also touched by it, then it would be a great satisfaction to me.”
For more information on Giannini, visit http://www.artediarte-fgiannini.com