The Harmony Peace Prize 2023 – International Art Competition


Cristina Cabrejas-Artola – TRANSCEND Media Service

An Art Creation Can Change Lives

Nov 2023 – The Harmony Peace Prize 2023 is a unique international art competition that honours Harmony and Peace in areas where conflict becomes a way of life. From Colombia, through Ukraine to Sri Lanka and Burma/Myanmar, the competition aims to encourage artists of all nationalities and walks of life to capture the expression of harmony. The artworks will reflect the importance of integrating diversity, respect and prosperity in the country of their choice.

Lorenzo de Medici ruler of Florence

Harmonic Approach in Armed Conflict

The theme of the Harmony Peace Prize 2023 art competition, “The Expression of Harmony”, was inspired by the legendary Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence who neutralised Naples and Rome’s military threat. His approach to harmony was influenced by the writings of Plato and Plotinus, two of the most prestigious Greek philosophers.

When Lorenzo came of age, Pope Sixtus IV imposed an embargo on Florence and excommunicated the city magistrates as well as Lorenzo, the new political leader.

The ban involved the prohibition of military security, which meant the Florentines were limited to defend themselves against the imminent conquest. Florence then become an easy defeat for the annexation of neighbouring city-states.

But Lorenzo De Medici, an outstanding diplomat, was also a staunch believer that harmony was a fundamental principle of the universe, and that it was essential for both beauty and goodness. Not surprisingly, he succeeded to divert the invasion of Naples and Rome implementing the harmonic approach. By using the principles of diversity, respect and prosperity, Lorenzo proved how “treating friends well and enemies badly” was simply the narrow view of tyrants, for wise men strive to bring prosperity to all.

Time and time again, history proves that without harmony, people are more likely to act out of fear and anger, which can lead to violence and war, dehumanising our own species.

Lorenzo agreed with his Platonic tutor, Marsilio Ficino, that conflicts had to be harmonised, mainly because the best political order leads to harmonious unity in which all members of society are allowed to flourish without violence or tyrannical aggression.

In 1480, Lorenzo signed the Naples peace treaty neutralising the feared aggression of Florence. His soft diplomacy served to shape Florence as the hub of the art world, an independent and safe city-state.

Lorenzo came to be known as the Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, taming Naples, the centaur, a mythical creature half beast, half human. The allegory was immortalised by Sandro Boticelli showing the triumph of virtue and wisdom over lust and greed.

As an idealist, Lorenzo advocated that for states to be fit for survival they must organise themselves in ways where citizens fulfil their sense of duty, in which justice becomes a harmonious strength rather than an excuse to create conflict.

These were the teachings of Plato and Plotinus. Cosimo de Medici, Lorenzo’s grandfather, made made them accessible to the Western European elite. Lorenzo put the ideals into practice, and eventually influenced the entire Italian Renaissance movement shaping the artistic world forever.

Pallas Athena

The Innate Human Desire for Beauty

In the platonic school, beauty was regarded as a transcendent ideal, a super natural force that transforms the human experience like a striking thunder. Beauty was regarded as self evidence of measurable harmonious proportions. Beauty, according to Plotinus, holds the goodness of two basic elements, proportionality and harmony.

“We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being…knowing ourselves, we are beautiful; in self-ignorance we are ugly.” 
— Plotinus

Plotinus’ reasoning on beauty had a major impact in much of the Roman architecture. During the 1st century BC, the Roman father of architecture, Vitruvius, was convinced that to reach beauty, buildings had to reveal the ideal proportions of the human body. He applied the platonic principles of beauty, the key to the grandeur of his buildings. This is how harmony, as a matter of beautiful proportions, became the epitome of perfection in ancient Rome, a principal of measurement to achieve the ultimate perfection.

Likewise, the Renaissance man sought to follow the ultimate perfection to solve intellectual, artistic, political and social problems with humanistic ideals. The Renaissance man believed that by achieving perfection, he could better understand and appreciate the world around him. For Lorenzo de Medici, art was an illusion of the ideal form, an entertainment with the potential to motivate and transform people’s lives. He believed that art could help people thrive in harmony with their natural surroundings.

The goal of The Harmony Peace Prize 2023 is to promote harmony in society just as Lorenzo de Medici did in Florence, making a difference in people’s lives by bringing harmony to their surroundings, for without harmony, as Lorenzo de Medici would remind us, “rationality turns bitter and leads to chaos, the source of human suffering.”

International artists and architects are encouraged to participate. There are cash prizes and no entry fees. The closing date is November 15th. Winners will be announced on 27th November.

For registration, terms and conditions please contact:


Cristina Cabrejas-Artola is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations by Middlesex University in Dubai. Her career priorities include engaging in community programs and improving the Arab identity through sports and cultural events. She previously served as a business conflict mediator in the Middle East.

International Peace Doctors™ (IPD) is a US company that promotes harmony as the natural part of human interaction leading to better relationships, more productive workplaces, and safer environments. They do this by providing training and mediation services to businesses and government institutions.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 6 Nov 2023.

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