Vincent Fantauzzo is likely to be the artwork world’s very unlikely hero. He grew up drawing on the partitions of his fee dwelling in Melbourne’s Broadmeadows, however a profession as an artist was hardly considered a approach to escape. The 40-year-old would go on to win Australia’s most talked-about prize – the Archibald People’s Choice Award – 4 occasions; the most recent Art Series resort named in his honour in Brisbane; his portrait of Julia Gillard hangs in Canberra; and he managed to woo Offspring actress Asher Keddie. Not unhealthy for somebody who dropped out of faculty at 13.
A battle with dyslexia noticed him depart St Bernard’s College in Essendon to pursue a dream of being a boxer. Mentor Jack Rennie educated Fantauzzo till the age of 19, when was pressured to offer it up on account of a damaged collarbone and broken knees. “I thought martial arts would be my way out of poverty,” says the paint-stained, softly-spoken Fantauzzo. He would not appear like a man who was as soon as possessed to swing punches. “Jack would always say to me, ‘You have to fight your own fight. Not just in the ring, but in life,'” he says. “If you’re up against a slugger and you try and slug it out, you will lose the fight.”
Rennie inspired Fantauzzo to attract the boxers round him when he wasn’t coaching, and launched him to Lionel Rose and Johnny Famechon, who grew to become the themes of his first work. “Rennie’s words really changed things for me. If you’re constantly trying to be something in life you are not, then the odds are against you … I went for my strengths which was art and that was the decider.”
A bohemian upbringing
Life was ever altering for younger Fantauzzo. His mom Rosaline, a homeopath, migrated to Australia along with her household and met Vincent’s father, Claudio, at a migration camp. Their Irish and Italian paths crossed, and so they moved to Birmingham, the place Fantauzzo was born. The household finally returned to Melbourne, and his dad and mom break up when he was 12. ”My mum was the one who never really worried about money. She always said ‘Do what makes you happy and follow your dreams.’ She’s a bit eccentric, a bit loose and the life of the party, but has a very high moral standard. We had a lot of freedom as kids, but her one rule was never to judge other people. If I did, I’d get my arse kicked.”
Fantauzzo is the center of 5 youngsters – his brother Otis is a hairdresser, sister Rachel a triathlete, youthful sister Maryanne is a builder, and youthful brother Michael a photographer. “I remember putting a pair of scissors into the gear stick in the old Corolla to help get it started,” he says. “We didn’t have much money and mum raised us on her own. I couldn’t imagine that now.”
If you are continually making an attempt to be one thing in life you aren’t, then the percentages are towards you.
Rosaline drove the additional mile in her Corolla so her son might attend a greater college. “The ones near our house were pretty rough, and while the other kids got into smoking and drugs, I had sport which gave me strength to stay out of it,” he displays. “But my dyslexia wasn’t understood so I opted to be the class clown and trouble maker instead.”
Fantauzzo constructed a strong portfolio of his work to point out the Victorian College of the Arts – however was rejected. He spent a 12 months portray sports activities memorabilia to cowl the hire and even tried his luck operating a dry cleansing enterprise, however would spend his days sketching clients as an alternative. “Dry cleaning clearly didn’t take off,” he says. “But I was too scared to commit to being an artist. I didn’t want a life of poverty and sacrifice … I think that mentality is still out there. People believe if you become an artist you will be destitute,” he says.
He was “overwhelmed” to lastly get into RMIT, the place he graduated with a Master of Fine Art in 2005, and nonetheless leases a studio from the college’s Carlton campus.
Behind the canvas
Fantauzzo’s telephone beeps, and it is a textual content from Keddie checking that he made it to the interview on time. “Asher is an absolute planner and amazing at it,” he says, smiling. “She is constantly sending me calendar reminders because while many guys are bad at remembering, I am the extreme end of that. I forget everything … It’s the same with my art – I find a lot of pressure to plan two years in advance, galleries are booked out years in advance. I just go with the flow.”
Keddie and Fantauzzo met in 2012 and married just a few years later. “We didn’t hesitate,” he remembers. “It was all or nothing. We are together a lot and we are on the same wavelength when it comes to raising children…Asher has one rule – no pretend guns or sword fighting in the house. I got sprung once when she returned home and found me and the boys playing outside doing what she said not to do.” he laughs.
The couple dwell in seaside Elwood and bought their farm just a few years in the past. “I’m the one who got Asher on Instagram. She is very private and really doesn’t like to share too much of herself.”
They have a three-year-old son Valentino, and Luca, 8, from his relationship with ex-wife Michelle. “Michelle and I were young and didn’t know what we were doing,” he says. “We got overwhelmed and things didn’t work out … We were at war with each other and now realise how silly that was in hindsight.”
The 2 are nonetheless good associates, and even vacation collectively. “I remember when I went through my parent’s split as a kid, the worst thing would be not feeling confident to talk about your other parent, so we both encourage Luca to share and be close with both female figures,” he provides.
”When I became a dad for the first time I was nervous wondering if I could fill those shoes as I didn’t want to fail … I’m very present and take an active interest in my kids. Asher and I just did an emotional coaching course about understanding your child and how to read their emotions.”
The quiet achiever
Fantauzzo is something however a showcase, although he counts a few of Hollywood’s greatest names as shut associates. There’s filmmaker Baz Luhrmann who he met in a Sydney bar, the late Heath Ledger who he met by his good friend N’far from 1200 Techniques, and Jet’s entrance man Nic Cester, who was lately over enjoying the piano.
“When I started painting popular people for the Archibald I felt really vulnerable. I asked myself ‘Should I be doing this?’ Some people thought I chose these people because of their amazing achievements and because they were popular. It was actually Baz [Luhrmann] who told me to stay true to myself and my art will find an audience. He said when you make art for the audience your work becomes transparent and people will see right through it. If you make art for yourself, it will shine.”
The artist says his objective is to bridge the hole between are and most people. “My big passion is to make art accessible in the same way chefs have done with cooking. You know if you ask the average person to name five artists they can’t. But ask them to name five criminals, or five chefs, they can.”
The 160-room Fantauzzo Art Series Hotel in Brisbane is underneath development and on account of open in 2019, with the artist’s portraits hanging all through. “What’s most exciting about this hotel concept is that I get to expose my work as an artist and whether people like it or not, they are immersed in art and go on a journey,” says Fantauzzo, who can be an envoy for automobile manufacturers Alfa Romeo and Zagame.
“The Art Series has been great in highlighting the work of older, blue chip artists like Charles Blackman and John Olsen, and even if you’re familiar with their work, your stay at one of the hotels will certainly introduce you to it. For me, this project is great because it’s a way to encourage others to choose the life of an artist. To be a living artist who can engage in the process and shine a light on it is certainly rewarding. If it can inspire a younger generation to pick up and paint then that’s a good thing.”
Jane Rocca from executivestyle.com.au