Facts and Fictions

Tony Lane
Jun 26 to Jul 29

From Thursday 6.30pm June 25, New Zealand artist, and Black Asterisk regular, Tony Lane’s latest collection of paintings, Facts & Fictions will be gracing the pristine white walls of the gallery at the top of Ponsonby Road

Lane’s paintings are like icons or Renaissance devotional alter pieces and frescoes, inscribed with an intricate and arcane language of symbols that the artist has pulled both from the past - the Renaissance artists were particularly good at this - and their implied meanings and marrying them with his own mnemonics to create a narrative that is both fact and fiction, sacred and secular and sees the past and the present sitting comfortably side by side. Narrative and enlightenment in Lane’s works are timeless and infinite. Veils, like funeral shrouds, some rent by the artists “wound” symbol float across landscapes, necklaces of simply wrought beads with no beginning or end encircle objects both mysterious and mundane. Elongated upraised hands, religious reliquary and gilded hearts are among the symbols that Lane repeats across his canvases like a refrain. The works are contemplative and rich with narrative, both personal and public, and are resonant of not just the religious art produced by the masters of Renaissance church painting and icons but also the decoration found in more humble churches and devotional sites that Lane came face-to face with when he traveled through Europe in the later part of the 1980s. These were signs, as Lane’s art teacher at Elam, McCahon would say, for people to live by. A means by which people could connect to the spiritual through the visual, not because of the fineness of the art necessarily, though even this is subjective, but because of the meaning conveyed by the iconography.

Art history, spirituality and the landscape are infinitely entwined in Lane’s intricately detailed and often lavishly gilded icons. Each element a religious experience and its own public and private narrative. It’s impossible not to imagine how the paintings would look with lit votives crowded on an alter beneath, their flickering light making the gilding gleam and the shadows deeper than the darkest hour of the soul.