Maxmillian Ciccone has been widely lauded for his unique style. But having had no formal training, the Italian artist insists his talent and anointing comes from the Holy Spirit. A new renaissance is coming, he says
When God thought about me, he thought about an artist. I believe my artistic gift is from him.
When I was young I drew a lot but never thought of making it a career. At age 21, I was wild, really extreme. I drank and took drugs and had started doing things that were really wrong. I was always with different women.
A supernatural encounter
Like most Italian families, ours was Catholic in name only. Then, one day, a Christian friend shared the gospel with me. I immediately perceived that it was the truth. At the invitation of my friend, I started going to prayer meetings. Normally I’d be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but strangely, whenever I went to a prayer meeting, the effect of the substances I had taken completely vanished. Instead, I always felt a sense of peace and lightness. It was supernatural. The sense of peace would accompany me the whole night so I thought: Maybe this really is God.
After that, I started reading the Bible and going to church. I also immediately started to preach the gospel, even though I knew very little. My radical nature, which had previously been used for self-destruction, was now used for God’s purposes instead.
Around the same time, I tried to go to art school, but always found closed doors. At first, I thought God might call me to be a pastor or an evangelist. But then the Holy Spirit started revealing that art was a spiritual calling for me. Over time, I understood that my art is a miracle. It doesn’t come from human teaching, but from the grace of God.
God showed me that I needed to develop my skills to the very best they could be, and also have an understanding of the history of art. I began painting between eight and 15 hours every day. God showed me how this would initiate a new movement of the restoration of true art, not modern art. This would be a pioneering artistic movement, a new way to see and do art.
The critics can’t understand my style because God put an anointing on my life
God’s calling on my life bore witness in my heart. Since God is creative, he gives us creative ideas which then become reality. God has imparted an anointing on me, giving me the ability to paint like the masters of the 19th century.
Now, when art critics and historians come to view my work, they ask me: “What time period are you from? Where did you study?’’ They were used to recognising where a painter had studied. The critics can’t understand my style because God put an anointing on my life. I haven’t done any formal study.
When I first got engaged to my wife, Ada, God began to speak to me about moving to Florence, in Tuscany. I was born and raised in the south of Italy and had no interest in these places. But when God calls, it’s because he has a project in mind. We put everything in our car and drove. We had no money, only that guarantee from God.
There was a monk, Savonarola, who was martyred in 1498 because he stood against the corruption of the Catholic Church. He prophesied: “You will be the Florence that will reform all of Italy. Here will begin a renaissance that will spread everywhere. Florence needs to become the new Jerusalem, a lighthouse. A point of reference of which you can look at. To begin the purification of the whole world.”
Savonarola didn’t have complete understanding of the vision at the time. He destroyed a lot of valuable art and that was wrong. But Savonarola was saying God would send a spiritual, or artistic, revival. God’s purpose is to bring a new renaissance. This is not the renaissance of the Medicis (the wealthy bankers and popes who helped fund the Renaissance). This rebirth is built by God. It’s incredible, and its prophecy is coming true.
We moved to Montevarchi, near Florence, 17 years ago. I now teach at the largest art school in this part of the country. People have moved to Florence to study my techniques. God is causing this revival with young artists. I’ve met people with double degrees, really amazing careers, and they’ve left everything to come and dedicate themselves to art. Their lives have been completely turned upside down by God.
Last summer, I opened my own studio and gallery. It brought a lot of curious people because it says: “ingresso libero/free entrance” on the door. People come in and they’re like: “Wow! This is what I’ve been looking for.” It was God’s strategy to do it this way. God’s presence is in this place. The Holy Spirit has reached many people who’ve walked through the doors.
Right now, I have a small studio. But I believe it’s God’s plan to give me a larger structure; an art academy with a gallery that the public can visit. We have spent four years fasting and praying, trying to find the right place in Florence. Everywhere was too expensive or just not right. We have finally found an apartment in the Basilica Di San Lorenzo, a renaissance church. Our apartment happens to be located over the tombs where the Medici family are buried. God has a great sense of humour!
Before the end of time, God wants to restore all things. This restoration will be used to bring more people into the kingdom. With my gift, I can reach people in the artistic world. These are people that, for example, a singer will never reach. God needs his children to wake up in different fields of society – art, politics, finances, film – so that the gospel can arrive in that field, too.
Maxmillian Ciccone was speaking to Kate Orson. Find out more at maxmiliancicconefineartstudio.it