Announcement of artist residency winners 2023 in Villa Romana, Florence

International Guest Artists 2023: Erik Tollas and Sergei Asmar


A cooperation between the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) and Villa Romana, Florence.

Villa Romana and ERIAC are pleased to announce the winners of their joint artist-in-residency programme for 2023, following successful collaborations in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Villa Romana is a place of contemporary artistic production and international exchange. Founded in 1905 by artists and patrons, it still operates as a non-profit association. Every year it hosts four Villa Romana award winners (this year: Jessica Ekomane, Diana Ejaita, Samuel Kortey Baah, Pınar Öğrenci), as well as international guest artists. With its programme of workshops, exhibitions, and a wide range of public events, Villa Romana strives to promote interaction between artists and the public, to engage and support different local communities and promote practices of sustainabile togetherness and ecological imagination. The current programme launched by the new director unfolds under the title: A House For Mending, Troubling, Repairing. For more information, please see: www.villaromana.org and follow the Instagram account


The European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) has joined forces with the Villa Romana residency programme to offer two residencies to contemporary artists of Roma heritage. This exciting initiative draws upon the ground-breaking work, expertise, and vision of both institutions to offer a unique opportunity for Roma artists and marks a significant step in the recognition of the importance of Roma contemporary art practice today. Through this cooperation, Villa Romana and ERIAC offer each artist a grant and the hospitality in Villa Romana for a period of one month.

ERIAC and Villa Romana received 14 eligible applications for 2023. The jury meeting took place online via the Zoom platform on 31 March 2023 with the participation of:


Elena Agudio (art historian and curator, director of Villa Romana)

Daniel Baker (artist, curator of FUTUROMA at the 2019 Venice Biennale)

Luna De Rosa (artist, former Villa Romana resident)

Timea Junghaus (curator, art historian, executive director of ERIAC)

Maria Lind (curator, writer, educator, and Cultural Counsellor at the Embassy of Sweden in Moscow)


The jury established a protocol for the eligibility and selection of the residency awardees, based upon the following criteria:
– the selected artists can – at this stage of their artistic career – attain the most benefit from the residency in Florence;
– they have submitted portfolios that demonstrate outstanding and mature artistic oeuvres;
– they apply cutting-edge, timely and relevant research methodologies;
– they have a solid commitment to further enhancement in technique;
– their application suggests a capacity for development of their artistic expression.

The jury has made the following decision:

The jury decided unanimously that the two residencies in 2023 shall go to Erik Tollas and Sergei Asmar


Former Villa Romana Residents, International Guest Artists who participated in the program:

2022 – Dariya Kanti and Luna De Rosa

2021 – L’uboš Kotlar and Norbert Oláh

2020 – Robert Gabris and Małgorzata Mirga-Tas


Short bio Erik Tollas

Erik Tollas is a contemporary artist of Roma origin from Hungary, living and working in Budapest. As a former graduate of the University of Pécs, Faculty of Music and Visual Arts, his first steps as a painter were taken in the realm of figurative painting. More recently he turned towards experimenting with abstract forms, his works obtaining a more meditative and surreal character. In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Eszterházy Art Award at the Ludwig Museum, Budapest. He regularly exhibits in galleries across Hungary and participates both in solo and group exhibitions, among the latest in the NACO Gallery (Metanoia, 2022) in Budapest.


Erik Tollas: Worms in My Flesh, 2022 acrylic, wood, iron, recycled plexiglass 93x47cm


Erik Tollas: When I Open My Eyes, 2022, acrylic, wood, iron, recycled plexiglass, 37×132 cm


Short bio Sergei Asmar

Sergei Asmar is a multidisciplinary artist of Roma origin, born in Russia, currently living and working in Tbilisi, Georgia and now residing in Ria Keburia Residency (Kachreti). A graduate of the Kuban State University, he works as a freelance illustrator since 2017, and from 2022 regularly cooperates with the Youth Agency for the Advocacy of Roma Culture “ARCA”, among others. He experiments with the collage technique and with great sensitivity addresses socio-political issues, such as the situation of women in the Middle East, or the Roma community under the USSR. In his works he masters various techniques, such as gouache, acrylic, pastel, and pencil.


Sergei Asmar: Romale, 2019, collage, paper, mixed technique 
Sergei Asmar: ROMANO RAT, 2022, acrylic