Welcome to the low-brow, high-art world of Tony de Lautour’s paintings, sculptures and ceramics. One of New Zealand’s leading painters, de Lautour’s early works drew from wide-ranging sources including seedy underground street culture, post-punk music and comic books as well as fine English porcelain and antiques. Over the past decade his painting has developed into a unique take on geometric abstraction. In this short video Tony talks with the exhibition’s curator Peter Vangioni.
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū and Tony de Lautour wish to thank Creative New Zealand, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, The Chartwell Trust and the lenders to the exhibition US V THEM: Tony de Lautour for their generosity and support.
With thanks to our strategic partners: Chapman Tripp, EY, Fulton Hogan and NZI, and Christchurch City Council.
Video produced by Belmont Productions Ltd.
US V THEM: Tony de Lautour
Welcome to the low brow, high art world of Tony de Lautour’s paintings, sculptures and ceramics.
Driving Without a Licence
Peter Robinson: I may be wrong about this, but I believe that we were the last generation to experience the primacy of painting at art school. What I mean by this is that when we were at Ilam, students had to compete to get into departments. As crazy as it sounds now, there was a very clear hierarchy: painting was the most popular discipline and afforded the most esteem, sculpture second, then film, print, design and photography somewhere down the line. Can you remember why you ended up choosing sculpture? And furthermore why you ended up being a painter? Do you think your training as a sculptor affected the way you think about or approach painting that is different to someone who was trained formally as a painter?
When we asked Tony de Lautour to produce a new work for the Bunker—the name Gallery staff give to the small, square elevator building at the front of the forecourt on Montreal Street—he proposed a paint scheme inspired by Dazzle camouflage. Associated with the geometric near-abstraction of the vorticist movement, Dazzle was developed by British and American artists during the First World War to disguise shipping. It was a monumental form of camouflage that aimed not to hide the ship but to break up its mass visually and confuse enemies about its speed and direction. In a time before radar and sonar were developed, Dazzle was designed to disorientate German U-boat commanders looking through their periscopes, and protect the merchant fleets.
Senior curator Lara Strongman spoke with Tony de Lautour in late January 2016.
A miscellany of observable illustrations
Romantic notions of gothic leanings, the legacy of Tony Fomison, devotion to rock sub-genres and an eye to the past are familiar and sound reasons to group Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond together in one exhibition, but De Lautour / Greig / Hammond is to feature new and recent work. Could all this change? What nuances will be developed or abandoned? Will rich veins be further mined? We can only speculate and accept that even the artists concerned can't answer these questions. For the artist, every work is a new endeavour, a new beginning. What may appear to the public, the critic or the art historian as a smooth, seamless flow of images is for them an unpredictable process where the only boundaries are those that they choose to invent.