June 14, 2024

Gozitan artist makes final of international sacred art competition

A Gozitan artist has been selected as one of the ten finalists in an international sacred crt competition for his work, Saint Francis in Ecstasy

The competition, Laudamus Award 2024 for Sacred Art, had over 1,200 submissions from 48 countries. Full-time Gozitan artist Manuel Farrugia is now in the running to be crowned the event winner. 

“I already feel like a winner by just being selected as one of the top ten. But winning would be a very nice bonus,” said Farrugia.

Saint Francis in Ecstasy by Manuel Farrugia, 2022 Photo: Christian Art websiteSaint Francis in Ecstasy by Manuel Farrugia, 2022 Photo: Christian Art website

Farrugia is one of the leading artists working in contemporary sacred art on the island. He is probably most famous for his Acts of Mercy murals in St George’s Basilica in Gozo. One of those immortalised Lassana Cisse Souleymane, the 42-year-old migrant shot dead in what is believed to be Malta’s first racially-motivated murder.

A Malta School of Arts graduate, he is inspired by several local artists, including the modern artists Willie Apap and Anton Inglott. But Farrugia has a particular soft spot for the Maltese Baroque artist Melchiorre Cafà.

The oil on canvas painting Farrugia submitted to this competition is called Saint Francis in Ecstasy, made in 2022.

Farrugia said he feels he has a personal relationship with St Francis due to the strong presence of Franciscan priests during his youth. Farrugia said, “I was also an altar boy at the Church of St Francis of Assisi, so I have a lot of love for this saint. But I am also deeply interested in him as a subject matter because he is an incredibly thought-provoking figure.”

Farrugia was informed about the competition by a friend, and after looking into it, he was convinced he wanted to participate. “The platform the competition provides is pretty extensive. Therefore, I saw this as a perfect opportunity [to] not only to expose my practise but also Malta,” said Farrugia.

The Laudamus Award 2024 for Sacred Art is organised by the website Christian Art with the support of the American-British investment banker and philanthropist John J. Studzinski CBE. The winner will receive £25,000 (€29,400). A jury of experts selected the finalists based on originality of composition, technical skill, emotional impact, innovation, and public appeal.

A public vote will now decide the award’s winner, and the winner will be announced around mid-June.

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