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De Lautour exhibition brimming with abstract energy

De Lautour exhibition brimming with abstract energy

The first major survey of local artist Tony de Lautour’s acclaimed work opens at Christchurch Art Gallery next month.

US V THEM features a selection of de Lautour’s energetic work from the past three decades, including a new body of large-scale paintings completed especially for the exhibition.

De Lautour – a New Zealand Arts Laureate – first came to national prominence in the mid-1990s with work that drew heavily from underground street culture, tattoos, post-punk music, and comic books.

“He portrayed a seedy, antagonistic side of New Zealand, with his unique take on Aotearoa identity and colonial history often characterised by brawling kiwis and lions,” says Christchurch Art Gallery curator Peter Vangioni.

“But since the late 2000s, in particular following the Christchurch earthquakes, his paintings have made a remarkable transformation into abstraction.

“Colourful geometric shapes jostle for position in these later paintings – at times full of energy and tripping over one another – while elsewhere sparser and in harmony with each other, delicate and unnervingly beautiful,” adds Vangioni.

Says de Lautour: “After the earthquakes I found figurative work seemed a little… facile. I just wanted to deal with shapes. Shapes seemed more real, like objects; painting them seemed more real than trying to do a little figurative rendition on canvas. It was a way of dealing with things in an abstract way – an abstract way of seeing things.”

US V THEM is a timely exhibition for de Lautour. Now in his mid-career, it is the first extensive survey of his work as a painter, ceramicist, sculptor and art provocateur.

Accompanying the exhibition is a major new book on the artist with several insightful texts and an interview by his contemporary artist and close friend Peter Robinson.

Tony de Lautour: US V THEM is on display at Christchurch Art Gallery from 5 May to 9 September 2018. Entry is free.

Coinciding with the opening of US V THEM, on 4 May at 7.30pm the Gallery will also celebrate its fifteenth birthday with a free public event. More information


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