Alexey Steele presenting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the image of his work "Fire of Peace" for which he received a prestigious Presidential Gusi Peace Prize of the Philippines for 2009.
The Gusi Peace Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia, is given by the President of Republic of the Philippines every year in Manila to an international group of leaders in various fields who distinguished themselves through advancing humanitarian causes that contribute to World Peace. The group of 19 laureates for 2009 included Representative Bob Filner (D, CA); Hon. Massimo Romagnoli, Minister and a Member if Italian Parliament; HRH Princess Fuziah Raja Uda of Malaysia; Charalambos Lambrou, Secretary-General of Pancyprian Social Welfare Council of Cyprus and Ali Nasuh Mahruki, first Muslim to climb Mount Everest, head of internationally operating search and rescue teams, from Turkey.
Alexey Steele (1967) is a noted Los Angeles painter known as much for his unusual large-scale figure compositions as for his out-of-the-box ideas about art within a modern society. It seems that his ideas reverberate recently across artistic disciplines and continents. His “Classical Underground” model of alternative presentation of classical music jointly with visual arts received a substantial note from such high-brow international voice as “Gramophone” Magazine; he was subject of an in-depth profile by the Los Angeles Times, received a prestigious Artemis Award in Athens for his representation of feminine power on a heroic scale and started a group “Artist for Marbles” to support international campaign on bringing Elgin Marbles to Acropolis.
Now another project of his gains note. His "Fire of Peace" composition in the work since 2001 is developed to serve as modern day icon for new inter-cultural paradigm of unity and mutual acceptance among vital to World Peace Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. The beautiful and inspired vision of commonly shared ideas and principles on which there is no disagreement among followers of all three faiths is contrasted by a heart – wrenching image representing devastation, rubble and decay of destruction. It is serving as a frame to the composition and in a symbolic way compelling the viewer to change his or hers own “frame” of perceiving their core beliefs.
It conveys the message that the old way of seeing ones own cultural identity and heritage to the exclusion of others will lead to inevitable self-destruction in the modern world. In artists words it is “reflecting broader pluralistic culture while remaining viable to traditional communities thus encouraging a seismic shift in their fundamental perception of each other”. This shift in Alexey Steele’s view is vital to reaching any lasting peaceful solution to an ever-painful list of mutual grievances that are political in nature.
This task of deeply affecting core perceptions is also according to an artist an important and often overlooked function of art and the source of its power within a society. “It is the effective and honest engagement of this power on a very fundamental, subterranean to any political interests level that while clearly separating it from any form of “propaganda,” turns ART into a viable tool of international conflict resolution” - says Alexey Steele. (Steele is insisting to always capitalize “art” in his quotes reflecting his deep belief in its vital importance to the life of society).
Alexey speaks at 5:31 in this video