Mike and Emilie Fantuz: Places We Are Found

September 2023

I am a part of all that I have met –
Tennyson, Ulysses

A sense of place resonates as more than mere background. A hillside, a river, the ocean, an iconic building, even the traditions, customs, and relationships within a community all contribute its identity. The exploration of places inspires us to seek what is beyond our sights, to expand our personal growth and fulfilment, even finding new meaning in the familiar.

In this exhibition, Emilie and Mike Fantuz use a variety of artistic techniques to illustrate the impact of the experience of place, showing how different perceptions of St John’s have singularly affected them.
Emilie transforms the reality of intimate and unexpected scenes into a tableaux of detailed forms. By evoking a reflection and immersion of self in the landscape through window scenes and urban street corners, she pictorially slows down the rapid pace of a changing world by giving permanence to a mutable urban environment.In contrast, Mike portrays a more holistic overview of the urban and coastal landscape. Through the use of drone imagery and aeronautical charts, he focuses intensely upon the complexity of a vast landscape, giving meaning and coherence to the details of place which recur in our daily lives.
Both Emilie and Mike fully respond to the life-altering aspects of place, seemingly static but always changing. Emilie, enlivened by the sense of a new and promising environment, seizes the opportunity to portray the varied features of a new place in a new land. Mike, returning to the land and viewing his former home mirrored by the past, retrospectively highlights what he left behind during his absence.
In this exhibition, the intense colour and intricate division of space found in the paintings testify to the transformative role of place that Mike and Emilie have realized anew in the city of St John’s. Through the exploration of place, it is often the unexpected things we find within that contribute to the incremental path of growth.

Mike Fantuz is a Canadian artist known for his palette knife paintings depicting the urban landscape in the American Realism style. Using inherited palette knives and thick application of paint, he investigates the aerial perspective informed by his extensive experience in the aviation industry as an air traffic controller and pilot. His passion for the urban landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador developed over the decade he spent living and working in the province. Work by Mike Fantuz has appeared in exhibitions in Canada, the USA and the UK and is found in public and corporate collections including The Rooms Provincial Art Bank, Fortis Incorporated (NL and BC), Marco Construction, The Delta Hotel St. John’s, and in numerous private collections around the world, including in Canada, the United States, Norway, Italy, and England.

Emilie Fantuz is an American-Canadian artist known for her large-scale paintings depicting reflections and nocturnal urban landscapes. Her palette knife paintings combine technical elements of hyperrealism with an abstracted stylization that is distinctly her own. Through reflected imagery and complex compositions, Fantuz investigates the perception of colour and light inspired by the beauty of everyday scenes. Fantuz’s work has been featured in exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom and can be found in public collections including Bucci Developments Vancouver, Henry Ford Hospital and The Bank of Ann Arbor, and in private collections around the world including Canada, the United States, France, China, Caymen Islands, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Places We Are Found continues at Christina Parker Gallery until September 16. Images (Things We Have Weathered, by Mike Fantuz; Irene’s Souvenir Shop and So Kee Grocery by Emilie Fantuz) and catalogue statement courtesy of CPG.

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