Us v Them: Tony de Lautour

Peter Vangioni with Giovanni Intra, Zara Stanhope, Lara Strongman, Alice Tappenden and Peter Robinson
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ISBN: 978-1-877375-53-8

Soft cover with Japanese-style stab binding

Writer and curator Peter Vangioni provides an entertaining introduction to the low-brow, high-art world of Tony de Lautour, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading artists.

Described as “a body of work like nothing else this country has seen”, de Lautour’s paintings and sculptures over the past thirty years are brought together, taking the reader on a journey from the chaos of his early paintings inspired by seedy underground street culture to the careful geometric abstracts of his later major canvases.

Includes an interview between de Lautour and fellow artist Peter Robinson.

Author: Peter Vangioni with Giovanni Intra, Zara Stanhope, Lara Strongman, Alice Tappenden and Peter Robinson

Pages: 224 with 2 gatefolds

Dimensions: 270 x 212mm

Imprint: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

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Underworld 2
Tony de Lautour Underworld 2

Underworld 2 was painted in Tony de Lautour’s central city studio, a converted office building in pre-quake Christchurch. It was very nearly the same size as the wall on which he painted it. “It was the weirdest and most uncomfortable studio I’ve worked in, all brand new carpet and white walls that I had to cover with plastic, and surrounded by people paying huge rent to sit in those doomed-to-fail small businesses.”

De Lautour started painting in the top left corner of the canvas, and worked from left to right, down and along, gradually filling in the canvas with what looks like a mind map or a complex diagram of related forms. A giant flickering screen of digital code, perhaps, in which every line is of equal importance. He used a similar approach for several works of the time: “It seemed more factual to do it like handwriting. It also took away some of the compositional decision-making that can hinder a work.”

One of the largest paintings in the Gallery’s collection, Underworld 2 is a vast lexicon—a visual index—of the forms that have populated de Lautour’s works over the past twenty-five years. Lightning bolts, human heads, lions, empty speech bubbles, trees, mountain ranges, cobwebs, stars, smoke plumes, letters, numbers, crucifixes and dollar signs float freely in black space, a universe of symbols drawn from both ends of the visual register—from home-made tattoos to modernist abstraction by way of colonial landscapes.

De Lautour’s work has never been linear in its development, instead looping and swirling back and forth, picking up old ideas and deploying them in new contexts, reworking recent concepts in the light of earlier enquiries. Underworld 2 is like a stocktake of his pictorial inventory, humming with the energies of an immense cultural network. (Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)

US V THEM: Tony de Lautour

US V THEM: Tony de Lautour

Welcome to the low brow, high art world of Tony de Lautour’s paintings, sculptures and ceramics.

My Favourite
Tony de Lautour's Underworld 2

Tony de Lautour's Underworld 2

Underworld 2 is a must-see. I know, I know. Everything is a must-see or a must-read or a must-do in this society of superlatives and imperatives. But you really do need to be in the same room as this work. Underworld 2 is immense. You need to be in front of it—to be immersed, to be overwhelmed, to be confronted. I start at the left-hand side and plot my journey as if I am planning a road trip and this is my map; first south around the mountains, turn left, then keep going until you pass a lion on the right-hand side. Stop and take in the scenery, go down a dead-end road or two. There’s no rush. You’ll know when you’re there.