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Tony de Lautour’s Biography

Last Updated:
21/05/2019, 7:53 pm
Arts Foundation Laureate 2012
Tony’s art is quirky and full of dark humour. His paintings have been included in numerous group exhibitions in public galleries, and solo exhibitions.

Tony de Lautour is a painter, and occasionally a sculptor. He came to critical attention in 1994 with Bad White Art, an exhibition of thickly-worked impasto paintings which showed in Christchurch and Auckland and which featured many of his characteristic motifs drawn from amateur tattoos-spiders' webs, guns, knives, teardrops, chains, lightning bolts, and syringes. Full of dark humour and social antagonism, the works articulated problems of local cultural identity. By the late 1990s, de Lautour's seedy protagonists-rudely gesticulating beer-bellied kiwis, mangy and dissolute lions-began to appear in a controversial series of works known as his ‘Revisionist' paintings. Acquiring naive and amateur landscape paintings from junkshops and garage sales, de Lautour added debased motifs of British Empire and New Zealand nationalism, questioning the nobility of the colonial enterprise.

A subsequent series of paintings dealt with contemporary issues of cultural colonisation and ownership. De Lautour depicted the logos of global corporates - fast food chains, sports brands and technology companies - as ghostly mountainous islands floating against a dark background, using early New Zealand history books as the source of the images for the mountains. Much of de Lautour's work since 2000 has been concerned with the distribution of imagery across an expanded field; he commonly recycles and reworks his own motifs and forms, exploring further conceptual possibilities with new juxtapositions.

The geometric shapes which appeared in these works have more recently developed into a reappraisal of modernist abstraction; an exhibition in February 2012 involved a collision between modernist forms, popular culture, and the post-earthquake environment of de Lautour's hometown, Christchurch. In August 2012 de Lautour published an artist's book of paintings made over pages from glossy real estate brochures-properties covered over by hastily-applied swathes of colour, blanked out, obliterated-a forceful commentary on the zoning of Christchurch by authorities after the earthquakes.

Tony de Lautour was born in Melbourne in 1965, and arrived in New Zealand in 1967. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury with a BFA in 1988, majoring in sculpture. He held his first solo show in 1991, and won the Visa Gold Art Award in 1995.

Over the past two decades, de Lautour has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand, and regularly in Australia. Solo exhibitions of his work have been shown at City Gallery Wellington, Te Manawa, Waikato Museum of Art and History, and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. His work has been included in many significant curated exhibitions in New Zealand and Australian public galleries, including ‘Close Quarters' (1995), ‘Hangover' (1995-6), ‘Now Showing' (1996-7), ‘Bright Paradise: First Auckland Triennial' (2000); and ‘Prospect 2001: New Art New Zealand' (2001). His works have been acquired for major public and private collections, including Auckland Art Gallery; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; National Gallery of Australia; Chartwell Collection; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery; National Library of New Zealand; Sarjeant Art Gallery; Christchurch Art Gallery.

Milestones & Awards