Vancouverites have been left in disbelief at the incredible detail a local artist used to capture one of the city’s most iconic streets.
When Emilie Fantuz posted a photo of her painting Of Clarity to Reddit, some didn’t immediately believe her. “I painted Granville Street with palette knives” Fantuz wrote above her work, in response one Redditor, u/Skrubette, wrote what went through theirs and many others’ minds: “no you didn’t, that’s a photo *zooms in* Oh shit.”
Though the painting is made of many minuscule details the canvas itself is quite large at eight feet long and four feet tall. Adding to the painting’s impressiveness is the fact most of the paint was applied using one tiny metal spatula.
“My work has become increasingly realistic over the past year,” Fantuz explained in a recent Q&A with Vancouver Is Awesome. “The smaller palette knife has equated to being able to be more precise with smaller details.”
All that detail comes at a cost though: time. Each of Fantuz’s paintings takes many weeks to complete and requires dedication to every detail, mixing the paints even for the tiniest elements like the pin-pricked lights of a vehicle in the distance.
Of Clarity was no exception, Fantuz says, with the piece taking several weeks of eight-hour days to complete.
Part of that time-intensive process is a painting technique Fantuz employs called "wet on wet" which means fully completing sections of the painting instead of adding layers. The technique allows for those sections to be blended properly Fantuz explains. The painting’s initial setup also takes time but generally makes for greater success later on Fantuz says.
Why palette knives?
Fantuz was first exposed to palette knives through an artist friend she made while living on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.
“I was simply drawn to the art and the unique textures. I learned that it was created with palette knives and I was instantly intrigued and curious to try painting with these tools,” she said. “As soon as I started using them, I felt that it was the right fit and I found an intensity of inspiration. I think there is also an element of it being an uncommon method of painting that I enjoy.”
Not only did using a palette knife inspire her painting, but it also led to her meeting her husband Mike through their use of the niche hashtag on Instagram.
“Having that shared love of working with these tools has allowed us to provide each other with support and feedback in growing our art,” she said.
For the last year Emilie and Mike Fantuz have been working on pieces now on display at the Ian Tan Gallery.
The art showcase displays modern and contemporary art since 1999 and includes many of Fantuz’s works. The month-long exhibition will be closing on Oct. 30 but until then will be highlighting Vancouver and the complexity of human civilization.
"We are so grateful for the opportunity to exhibit our paintings at Ian Tan Gallery and to feel the support for local art," Fantuz says. "After spending the past year dedicated to creating this work, it is very exciting to finally share it with the community."
“This exhibition celebrates the city of Vancouver and our interconnectedness while touching upon the new layer of meaning that relationships take on in a post-pandemic world—whether in the physical or the digital world," the gallery states.
For more information on how to see the exhibit before it closes check out the Ian Tan Gallery’s website.