Clearly, Igorot MMA fighter Harold Banario puts the “art” in “mixed martial arts.”
To those who think that MMA is for thugs that have nothing better to do than punch people in the face, you’ve obviously never met Harold Banario.
The Baguio native uses as much creativity, technique, and finesse in the cage as a he does on the canvas. A natural artist since his grade school days and a self-taught painter since 2015, Banario creates stunning drawings and paintings from his home, including this piece inspired by British actress Emma Watson.
“I did that portrayal of war and love, inspired by the Beauty and the Beast [movie], as I admire the story and the characters, specially of Emma Watson as Belle,” he told Dojo Drifter. “I think she has that character that even if she’s big star, she’s still humble, and her involvement [in the] UN makes me look up to her. That made me do that painting. Also my self-portrait symbolizes war and culture, because Igorots are known to be warriors.”
“The background or setting is in the Pantheon in Rome, which means ‘Temple of All Gods,'” explained Banario. “All are allegorical, and it’s not yet done.”
This particular piece took Banario roughly three weeks to make. And he plans to make more paintings of the same theme.
A Family Talent
Banario comes from a family of fighters. He and his two older brothers, Dario and Honorio, all compete as professional mixed martial artists. But just like fighting, he believes that being an artist is in his blood as well.
“I think this talent is inborn,” he said. “Actually, three of my siblings are good [at art] too. Mas magaling pa ang kuya ko si Dario Jr. kaysa sa akin noon, pero ngayon hindi niya tinuloy. I think it’s in my blood.”
For now, Banario is using his artistic skills as an outlet for self-expression. He’s on hiatus from professional fighting as he’s finishing up his studies in Architecture at the University of the Cordilleras. Nevertheless, art and mixed martial arts are two things that Banario plans to do for many years to come.
“I love art. I love this sport,” he said. “I’ll do these throughout my life as long as I can.”
Banario’s art can be purchased via his artist page. Drop him a message here for inquiries.
Photos via Harold Banario