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.
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.
Michael Fantuz’ vision is fed by extensive travel and experience in aviation and exploration. His large-scale palette knife works invite the viewer above and into his aerial perspective on landscapes and cityscapes.
The paint is thickly applied, bold in colour, and based in Fantuz’ discipline to limit his tools to palette knives only. This forces an intuitive engagement with the colour and density of the materials over the minute precision that smaller brushes would afford. Both the knife stroke and viscosity determine an aesthetic that reflects movement and abstraction; the stroke is wider, with bold impasto edges. This invites attention to tone, hue, contrast, and a more open compositional focus, which Fantuz embraces. The subject is seen from a distance rather than in tight close-up. Bright contrasts evoke the dynamic light play across a broad perspective visible only from a distance.
Fantuz’ connection with his subjects and materials is personal and felt. He inherited his palette knives from his grandfather, whose own artistic practice spanned decades. The knives carry layers of artistic legacy. Fantuz also brings his close relationship with landscapes to the canvas. His exploration work across multiple locations, as well as his aviation work above them, inform a broad perspective on our larger surroundings.
Bringing this perspective to his studio work is a meditation on the power of art to connect the painter and viewer alike to something larger than ourselves. Fantuz strives to honour this power. Quiet hours spent creating in the studio have a settling effect from mundane distractions and obstacles, opening avenues to larger levels of experience. Fantuz seeks these avenues in his time at the easel, with confidence that an individual’s deeper experience is closer to our collective experience, and that the viewer can enter along with him into the scale, perspective, and vision of his works.
2014 Imagined Homelands, Solo, Christina Parker Gallery, St. John’s NL
2012 Between Tides, Solo, Christina Parker Gallery St. John’s NL
2005 The Loop, Solo Exhibition, Gander Arts and Culture
2020 Summer Group Exhibition, Ian Tan Gallery, Vancouver BC
2017 Revisiting the Rural, group, Christina Parker Gallery, St. John’s NL
2010 Arts and Letters, The Rooms, St. John’s, NL Group Exhibit
2009 Arts and Letters, The Rooms, St. John’s, NL Group Exhibit
2009 Craft Council Annual Fair, St Johns Arts and Culture Centre, St. John’s, NL
2008 Craft Council Annual Fair, St Johns Convention Centre, St. John’s, NL
2006 Two Perspectives, Two Person Exhibition, Gander Arts and Culture, Gander, NL
Fortis Newfoundland and Labrador
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Delta Hotel
Newman Sound Mens Choir
Central Health Foundation
Town Square Family Dental, Gander
Gander Massage Therapy
2010 Commission for album cover Newman Sound Men’s Choir
2009 Commission for design and presentation of logo art for the Gander Triathlon
2009 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award, senior division visual art “Delta to the Narrows”
2008 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award, senior division visual art “South Shore Fire, 1901”
2006 Adjudicators Choice, “All around the Circle”, Gander Arts and Culture
2005 Peoples Choice, “All around the Circle”, Gander Arts and Culture
2019, Border Crossing Magazine, “The Oil Paintings of Michael Fantuz”
2014, Radio Canada International, Interview with Marc Montgomery
2013, Arabella Magazine, “Artist to Collect”, Kylie Serebrin
2012 Riddlefence issue 19 art contributor
2010 The Telegram, Visual Arts Top Ten, Joan Sullivan
2010 The Telegram November 2010, review for solo “Settled”, Joan Sullivan
2010 The Newfoundland Herald, “A Portrait of Resettlement”, Sarah Shepperd
2009 Interview with Gander Beacon, Arts and Letter Award
2005 Interview with CBC radio Michael Aucoin for “The Loop”
2005 Skywave’s Gander, television interview with Gina Brown for solo show “The Loop”
Emilie and Mike Fantuz work and reside in Vancouver BC, Canada with their their Apricot Poodle, Victoria.
While the two artists have tremendous experience searching for inspiration in many places, they didn’t expect to find each other while doing so. Who knew that their favourite hashtag inspiration on Instagram #paletteknifepainter would also be the reason they met.
After many conversations and finally meeting, Emilie made the move from Michigan USA to the Great White North. Today Emilie and Mike work from the same studio, both using the niche technique that brought them together.
With his bold style and expressive nature, Mike’s pieces take perspective to a whole new level. Mike’s art creates a new dimension to things we think we understand. His intuitive style allows viewers to see things in a new light and helps create a feeling of excitement for things we thought we knew.
With her close up perspective, Emilie’s pieces compliment Mike’s work by paying tribute to the things right in front of us. Emilie’s work creates a sense of curiosity that makes the viewer want to know what’s around the next corner and at the same time creates a sense of familiarity.
The Fantuzes’ art is both capturing and captivating. While they work as individual artists, their art paired together creates a new kind of experience that allows the viewer to see the full picture in everything around us.
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