|Fundamentally, it’s a child’s memory, of no consequence, explored through the powerful operatic emotion of cinematic epics and the painting of Caravaggio. We have explored in other works removing the line between heightened painting and heightened cinema, and this work is a further step in that journey.—Baz Luhrmann and Vincent Fantauzzo. Film director Baz Luhrmann merges art forms with painter Vincent Fantauzzo in a work entitled The Creek, 1977, a multimedia installation that centers itself around a narrative painting, which debuted in Hong Kong at Art HK10 this past spring.|
10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Fundamentally, it’s a child’s memory, of no consequence, explored through the powerful operatic emotion of cinematic epics and the painting of Caravaggio. We have explored in other works removing the line between heightened painting and heightened cinema, and this work is a further step in that journey.—Baz Luhrmann and Vincent Fantauzzo
Film director Baz Luhrmann merges art forms with painter Vincent Fantauzzo in a work entitled The Creek, 1977, a multimedia installation that centers itself around a narrative painting, which debuted in Hong Kong at Art HK10 this past spring.
“While it is not autobiographical, the scene portrayed is drawn from my own memories growing up on a small petrol station and farm in a tiny eleven-house town in the timber country of Australia’s mid-north coast,” Luhrmann says. “This image occurs early in the story of a film that I intend to make. A mysterious Drifter character comes into the lives of a family and tiny community. Is he a force for good or evil? This remains unanswered, but most definitely he is a force for change.”
The artists combined their specific techniques in the process, beginning with a discussion and storyboarding, then progressing to collage and sketching. Once a basic visual plan was mapped out, they specifically cast the roles (much like a movie) and then proceeded to a reference photo shoot. Additionally, inspired by Caravaggio, the artists cast themselves along with well-known actors in the image (Fantauzzo playing the Drifter, and Luhrmann the station owner). In the tradition of 17th-century religious paintings, where so much narrative needed to be condensed into a singular frozen frame, the reference photo shoot was a single locked shot with a one lamp light source out of frame (justified as the spotlight from the rescuing tow truck). From the reference imagery, Fantauzzo sketched and then realized the final artwork in traditional oil paint.
The artists will set up a website. They would very much like people who see the painting to consider it for a moment and express what they feel the story is, what will happen next, and ultimately, where the drama may lead. It is not important that they guess the already existing narrative. There are no wrong answers. Rather, viewers’ comments and reactions will serve as a stimulus to the ongoing creative process. It is also the artists’ intention to collaborate on further works to create a series of images from the story.
When the work is observed, its overt reference to the religious painting of Caravaggio and its chapel-like installation sets out to underline the driving idea in both artists’ vision, that being that our childhood memories have such power and enduring influence over our lives, when recalled, the imagery is almost sacred. An incident, inconsequential to the sweep of history—a car accident on Australian mid-north coast in the mid 1970s—is expressed with the same heightened drama of a 17th-century religious painting. “After all,” as Luhrmann drily puts it, “the cathedrals and churches of the 17th century were the cineplexes of their time.” Fantauzzo adds, “While the image itself appears to be quite a simple 2D rendering, it is actually the result of a complex collaboration. To produce the final painting, we had to go through both the process that I would usually do to prepare for a work, and also the process Baz goes through when preparing for a film. There was a dense background to the whole story that makes up the image, and we then took the key elements and condensed them into one representation. While it has a complex narrative, it is still open and ambiguous enough so the viewer can have their own opinion about what is taking place.”
The collaboration between the two artists is one of talents coming together and playing to each other’s strengths and interests. “Creatively, our interests overlap, in that I have a strong leaning towards film, photography, and the cinematic image, and Baz towards historic paintings,” Fantauzzo says. “My paintings are heightened storytelling in a still image, and Baz’s films have that same emotion. There’s a definite parallel there.”