At a time when uber cool black hotel interiors are the order of the day, Brisbane’s new Art Series Hotel – The Fantauzzo uses black in wonderful context. Some might consider it slightly mood zapping, but we think it’s black and charcoal colour scheme that you’ll love, accentuating the art and amplifying the raw story telling of Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo.
Tucked snugly underneath Brisbane’s Story Bridge and providing a powerful visual backdrop to the Howard Smiths Wharves precinct, The Fantauzzo’s exterior is a striking modernist art work in itself. Its geometric façade tiles appear as a kaleidoscopic layering painted in tones of gold, browns and bronze. Sections of glass blend in with the hard edged, diagonally cut design lines; to me the overall effect appears as a new-world metallic rendition of Mondrian’s famous cubist painting Composition 8 – ironically a work based on studies of building façades.
I step inside suite 122 which is dark and moody yet surprises with an unusually close up view of stone cliff face that’s flanks the BrisbaneRiver. Of an evening this is eliminated with fill lighting that slowly shifts in colour from one primary colour to another. Inside the layout and furnishings feel ultra plush. A divine peacock green velvet sofa takes pride of place, sharing the space with a king size bed, sleek cabinetry and a selection of European furnishings and fittings including a modernist Jabob Jenson Design telephone that I love – yes its the smaller detail that catches the eye. With the craggy rock face framing room’s view exerting this domain feels unmistakably bat cave like, making this dark hideaway one of Brisbane’s most secretive and luxe.
Thick window glazing mostly isolates the suite from sound. Overhead occasional creaks of vehicles crossing the Story Bridge can just be heard, these bring a slight unease but also a edginess that adds to the cave-like atmosphere. Muted jet flyovers add to the magic and rather than becoming distracting, connecting the suite’s underground feel ever so gently with the outside world. Lighting design is a large element incorporated within the space with various touch lighting, bedside lamps, strip and down lights that are switchable and dimmable in many configurations, allowing guests to create a range of lighting moods. The rock face lighting adds to this game. The obligatory large flat screen smartly TV doubles as a hotel compendium; I use it to exploring the excellent menu presented by the hotel’s laid back Italian restaurant Polpetta, situated on ground level.
Upon a cocoon-like restful sleep it’s difficult to step away from the gigantic rainfall head shower, but when you do, perhaps swing open the bathroom door to spy the curiously positioned full length mirror directly opposite – go on, take a good look at yourself. If you’re nurturing a healthy ego and like what you see the view might inspire a smile, or otherwise encourage a visit to the well equipped gym on level 1.
Competing with other upmarket hotels brands like Ovolo and QT, the in room mini bar at The Fantauzzo manages to step things up a notch with quirky additions like a recovery pack including: electrolyte supplements, Panadol rapid and Mentos (to freshen the breath?), plus an all important hydrating face spritzer. The pleasure and (later) pain can be induced with aromatic botanical gins at the rooftop bar on level 3; certainly if combining with an overuse of the mini bar that includes Dal Zotto Mio Pinot Grigio and NV Prosecco (we love them) plus the pre-mix Negroni by The Overweight Bottling Co.
If on the other hand you’re careful not to over indulge (as we advise) one might find time to shine, and break out The Fantauzzo 10 x 10cm pre-stretched canvas and water colour paints set – primary colours are offered plus a decent amount of black to enhance the sombre depth of your Vincent Fantauzzo inspired creation.
We walk the halls over and again to indulge in the punch of over 200 edgy works, many original oil on linen paintings, plus a near endless collection of large prints that line the corridors eliminated by thin LED strip lighting.The works are mix of emotive pop culture, some of beautiful faces and others that display signs of anger, angst betrayal, suffering and pain. This is art that makes you feel – art as it should be. The most striking painting I find is the artist’s self portrait hanging on level 6 – this is a must see with Vincent’s blooded face, bloodshot eyes and expression of intense sadness, confusion and level of distress. This is no doubt a flashback to his former days as an amateur boxer.
If there was ever a powerful work from an artist known for his more glamorous works – such as his 2014 Archibald Prize packing room and people’s choice winner Love Face – the painting of his wife Asher Keddie that now hangs in hotel the lobby – Vincent’s self portrait is is the complete polar opposite. And it’s so pleasing to see him deliver such a work of power. It crafts a kink in the mind that’s unexpectedly welcome.
Art Series – The Fantauzzo
5 Boundary Street, Brisbane City, Queensland
Tel 07 3515 0700