Artist captures the beauty and terror of the Taal Volcano eruption through series of paintings

It takes Sagaran 30 to 40 hours to complete one painting.

It took a one-two punch of unfortunate circumstances—one a natural disaster, the other a global health crisis—for this artist to complete a series of paintings. But the result is a set of artwork that has managed to evoke a whole gamut of emotions—from admiration and appreciation, to awe and excitement; from anxiety, to downright fear.

The subject of the artworks is the majestic Taal Volcano—before, during, and after its eruption early this year.

“I wanted to make the most of my time while on quarantine—turning negative into positive by coming up with a passion project that will hone my creativity, take away the stress of uncertainty and contribute to our society and history,” said Michael Anthony Sagaran, the artist behind the series of paintings.

Sagaran prefers working in the wee hours because it gives him clarity and focus to visualize what he needs to do—what colors to use, brush strokes to make, etc. When he is in the zone, his creativity just flows.

Sagaran employed the expressionism style in his paintings using high grade materials of acrylic paint, canvas, and protective varnish to ensure that each piece will last for years to come.

As a marketing and communications manager of Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay, Sagaran was able to extensively photograph the volcano in its different phases of eruption. When almost everyone was forced to work from home because of lockdown restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sagaran put his brush to good use and got to work—making use of his photographs as reference for his paintings.

As far as he knows, there hasn’t been any painting collection that has depicted an actual volcano eruption, created by an artist who actually witnessed the moment.

Sagaran has so far finished eight small to medium pieces plus two large ones. He is currently putting on the finishing touches on five more large pieces, which would complete the collection.

Because Sagaran is on a work from home status, he gets to accomplish his marketing communications tasks for Taal Vista Hotel, while the self-isolation of the ECQ gives him ample time to pursue his passion project.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the works of the impressionists and expressionists, masters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch and Piet Mondrian. Their works influenced my style with nature as majority of my subjects. Every art piece is always a challenge to discover and conquer,” said Sagaran, who has a Fine Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

While the whole story lies in the entirety of the series, Sagaran said that one of his favorites in the collection is the one of the actual Taal Volcano eruption. He waited for almost two hours to photograph the iconic image of the eruption, which has since gone viral on social media, and picked up by news outlets around the world.

“I wish to make the viewers of my paintings appreciate and value the power of nature through the splendor of art, sort of a reminder for us to take special care of our planet in a subtle and subliminal way,” he said.

While his Taal Volcano 2020 Collection is part of his personal collection (and none are for sale at the moment), Sagaran said there are talks to possibly display the artworks in several hotels and museums.

Sagaran said: “I believe in self development. It is only through consistency that we reach mastery. This series of paintings is also for future generations, for them to witness a natural phenomenon through art, which is more enduring than printed images and more poetic than digital photographs.”

Sagaran used thin and tiny strokes in his paintings, making use of vivid colors to evoke terror and glory.