Many artists speak of the accidental ways they found their path towards art — Mike Fantuz is not one of those artists. Born in Guelph, Ontario, the foundation of Mike’s artistic career began even before his birth, specifically in the 1940s. This was the decade Mike’s grandfather, Gastone Fantuz, immigrated from war-torn Italy to Canada and began his own artistic career.
It was a gift from his aunt and uncle — his grandfather’s palette knives and easel— that shaped Mike’s artwork today, forming his characteristic method for creating original oil paintings in his distinct, American realist style with nothing but palette knives. It was this unique relationship to the use of palette knives that initially connected Mike and his wife, Emilie Fantuz, an artist who also employs palette knives and oil paint in her work. In addition to palette knives, Mike takes an artisan’s approach to each aspect of his work, stretching his own canvases using Canadian kiln-dried wood from renewable forests and archival, environmentally-conscious hemp canvas.
Mike’s journey to becoming the artist he is today was not without twists and turns. Once pursuing a career as a pilot, two near-death experiences led him to a safer avenue for satiating his love of aerial landscapes — air traffic controlling. His talent for imagining a 3D landscape from a 2D image and his love of patterns and triangular shapes are borne out in his art. During his childhood, Mike’s strained relationship with his father instilled a compulsion towards perfectionism he has channeled into his meticulous and devoted artistic practice. Particularly after a struggle with depression and addiction, art became the space in which Mike reflects and connects to a purpose that dutifully brings him through life’s hardships.
Today, Mike Fantuz continues creating artwork in his signature style, an emotive fusion of expressionism and realism, while carrying on his grandfather’s tradition of using palette knives. His work has been featured in several solo exhibitions and belongs in collections within Canada, the USA, Italy, and England and the collections of the Government of Newfoundland and the City of St. John's among others.
Currently represented in the USA by the Conrad West Gallery in Las Vegas Nevada and in Canada by the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John's, Newfoundland, and the Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver, BC, where Mike, his wife, and their apricot poodle, Victoria reside.
Mike is represented by
Christina Parker Gallery in St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada
Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conrad West Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (Opening September 2020)