Australian Story: Nov 11

Monday’s Australian Story will profile artist Vincent Fantauzzo, who has struggled with dyslexia to craft a successful -if somtimes polarising- career.

Wife Asher Keddie also features.

Award-winning Melbourne artist Vincent Fantauzzo doesn’t hold with the idea of the starving artist. He has made a spectacular life for himself despite leaving school at 13 barely able to read or write.

The child of migrants, he grew up poor and virtually illiterate in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

“School made me feel stupid,” he says. “I couldn’t do the work… I would prefer to be kicked out of class than have to stand up and read out loud.”

His teenage years were spent in menial jobs and petty crime until his boxing coach encouraged him to follow his passion for art.

Outed for plagiarism at Melbourne’s RMIT School of Art he came clean about his disability and was finally diagnosed. “I was forced to take a dyslexia test…I failed with flying colours,” he says. “There was a relief that I’m not stupid, I actually have something wrong with me.”

Known today for a diverse range of portraits including Heath Ledger, Julia Gillard and wife Asher Keddie, Vincent is a successful artist with a distinct and at times polarising style.

“The way his career has evolved has mean’t that he’s operated on his own.. he doesn’t care much for rules. He’s not into ideologies that box people in,” says Asher Keddie.

Vincent no longer sees his dyslexia as a disability. He refers to it as a gift that allows him to see the world and his subjects from a different perspective.

Monday November 11 at 8pm on ABC

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