Artist Michael Fantuz explores nostalgia and its influence in new exhibit
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were,” visual artist Michael Fantuz writes, quoting Marcel Proust in his latest artist statement.
Artist Michael Fantuz's piece "A Sense of Ourselves" is part of his latest show, "Imagined Homelands," running at the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John's. — Submitted photo
In his new exhibition at the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s, called “Imagined Homelands,” Fantuz explores one of his favourite themes: isolated communities, both abandoned and populated. This time, it’s Gaultois and McCallum, where he spent time in the fall of 2013.
Fantuz developed the exhibit, he says, in the months after the trip, reflecting on the definition of nostalgia and its relationship to human concepts of past, present and future.
“Nostalgia is defined as the longing to return home, where the concept of home is not a physical place but a different time,” he says. “As the needs of our present existence change, it is possible to alter the perceptions of our past, ultimately directing the realities of our future.”
“Imagined Homelands” consists of a series of 17 oil and acrylic paintings on canvas and a half-dozen or so smaller acrylic paintings on rag paper. His depictions of the towns are beautiful, but not all idyllic, showing the reality of communities with dilapidated sheds and crowded wharves.
Fantuz has never been one to be confined by a straight line, and his paintings possess a dream-like, watery quality. His brushes, invigorating, carry a palette that’s distinctively his, and realist. His use of light and the movement of air and water almost convey a taste of salt water.
Five of the paintings have been executed in black and white, each a depiction of decomposition and decrepitude, collapse and disrepair of heritage structures. As a response to those, he has included “Contradictions of Modernity,” done in oil and spray paint in neon green, pink and orange. A heritage home stand, leaning, in the foreground in black and white, while a more modern structure, in a jolting blue, rests box-like in the background, void of any detail or character.
“It’s commonly thought that you don’t make work like this unless you come from here,” says Parker, “But an artist will go into a community and see it with different eyes. Michael really gets involved and gets underneath, and sees what makes these communities tick.”
“Imagined Homelands” opens tonight and runs until Sept. 6.