By Bryle B. Suralta

It’s never too late to start—and even thrive in—a career in art, especially if one gets to wake up to the glorious mornings of Florence, Italy. Just ask Florentine-based artist Stephanie Honrado, who had previously worked for more than two decades in the finance industry before she decided to attend the Angel Academy of Art in Florence.

On June 6, Salcedo Private View, the gallery and private sale arm of Salcedo Auctions, launched the physical and virtual exhibit, “Come stai? (How are you?),” a 12-piece showing of Stephanie’s works, reflecting the daily life in the capital city of the Tuscany region. 

After Vanderpoel - Florence is calling: ‘Come Stai?’

After Vanderpoel

During the launch, Stephanie gave guests a more intimate look at her life in Florence by touring them around Palazzo San Niccolo while talking about the feelings, ideas, and experiences that she hopes to communicate through her art. It is with her still lifes and nudes that she explores and finds the beauty in the ordinary.

One such epitome of the Florentine experience is Faith (2018). “It inspires people to keep the faith,” she says of the still life of a feather. Seeing feathers was a regular occurrence when she moved to Florence for her art studies. After doing a bit of her own research, she found out that they were signs of divine presence, guidance, and protection. “Every time you see one, it’s a sign that something good is nearby,” she says. 

Invincible Summer (2020) is another interesting piece. The painting is a still life of a stuffed bunny on a floral shawl, and is a perfect artwork in this time of quarantine and isolation. For this work, Stephanie recalled a quote from French philosopher and existentialist Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” 

The artist wanted to convey the strength it takes to get through the depths of solitude and confinement. That same bunny was the stuffed toy that kept her company during the lockdown, and the portrait is a reminder of the inner fortitude she had learned to foster.

After Vanderpoel 1 - Florence is calling: ‘Come Stai?’

After Vanderpoel 1

Meanwhile, Come stai? (2018), the namesake of the exhibit, is a still life of two bulbs of garlic with their stems interlocking. She compares them to the affectionate hesitance between two people who can’t find the right words to say to each other. “[They were] twirling as if all they ever say is ‘Come stai?’” Stephanie explains.

The artist adds: “For me, I thought, it is such a meaningful word, at least for the people who are unable to find words for their feelings, come stai is meaningful that way because it expresses care, affection, and love.”

Also included in the exhibit are Crimson (2020), The Sunsets of May (2020), and her graphite on paper works such as Bargue Torso (2020), Alessandro (2020), and Sofia (2020), among others. The latter works, on the other hand, typify the precision and soft technical strokes Stephanie learned from her live figure drawing classes. 

“It’s part of the exercise to help [you] draw things as though they are 3-D. Drawing is the backbone of good painting,” Stephanie says.

Invincible Summer - Florence is calling: ‘Come Stai?’

Invincible Summer

A decade after being first exposed to the classical art of Florence, Stephanie is one year into her life as an artist. A lot can go wrong for someone venturing into a different career path later in life, but Stephanie is glad she took the risk. “It’s not easy but it can be done. It can break your spirit if you’re not set. I still grapple with that every day,” she claims.

“You really have to be brave. It will be a test of your spirit. But you can do it.”

Joining the Zoom community call were several of her Florentine friends, and some former classmates, too, who happily congratulated her on her work thus far. Also in attendance were Philippine Italian Association executive director and vice president of Culture Silvana Diaz, List chief operating officer Yuki Tsumobatsu, and Salcedo Auctions’ 10th anniversary prestige real estate purveyor Sotheby’s International Realty.

Faith 1 - Florence is calling: ‘Come Stai?’

Faith

Expect to see more visual content from Stephanie in the coming weeks, as well. The “Come stai? (How are you?)” social media series will be featuring photos and videos of the artist’s favorite Florentine art hangouts, coupled by some personal anecdotes—all of which will all be featured on Gavel&Block’s social media channels.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak struck Italy hard, her classes at the Angel Academy of Art have been postponed until September. For now, Stephanie Honrado continues to paint, as she dissects her life in Florence, both outwardly and inwardly. Art has assured her of her next chapter. And for that, she has nothing to regret.

The “Come Stai? (How are You?)” physical and virtual exhibit runs until July 6. | salcedoauctions.com/auction/129 | info@salcedoauctions.com | (+639) 17 825 7449, (+639) 17 107 5581 | FB and IG: @gavelandblock 

Located at the NEX Tower, Ayala Ave. in Makati City, Salcedo Auctions is now open to walk-in guests on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guests are advised to observe social distancing while at the gallery. 

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