Tony Lane
Jul 6 to Jul 29
Art New Zealand advert.

Tony Lane - Infinities

Tony Lane’s palette has lightened in his latest suite of works, Infinities. The deep blacks, dark as endless nights, that have been such a presence in his paintings over the last decade have been replaced with rich purples, soft yellows, verdant greens, turquoise blues and crimsons the colour of old blood. This sees the new paintings mapping a definite transition from night to day both within Infinities and across Lane’s practise as a whole and is the culmination of two years of intensive work in the studio. There are other subtle changes too. These paintings allude more to the natural world and landscape in terms of the signs and forms that are being referenced, than Lane’s past paintings which are more akin to still life.

The ‘compendium of miraculous objects’ as curator Lara Strongman calls the miscellany of symbols and metaphors that are so utterly idiosyncratic of Lane’s work have become more secular with trees, a rising moon, flower-like forms and mountains rubbing shoulders with the strung beads, gilded drops of water and upraised hands. The symbols used are stripped down to the bone so that meaning and narrative continue to have room to move, evolve, grow and turn back inside themselves. That quiet contemplative quality, that element of religiosity that is such a hallmark of Lane’s practise however remains unaltered by the subtle but distinct evolution that has occurred. And the symbols remain as always, open to interpretation. A mountain top becomes a draped altar, then the rusty red tiles of roof tops in the Mediterranean. The sacred held between the land and the domestic. The leaves on the new flower-form echo the many manifestations of the infinity symbol that Lane has been using for almost three decades. In its latest incarnation, the sign which translates across time, border and cultures is attenuated, a member of the essential corps rather than the star of the show. The delicate gilding which has become an integral part of Lane’s practise also remains. The gold and silver leaf, sometimes polished to a sheen with agate, gives the objects it gilds - the drops of water, the circular beads and small square windows - a quality of elevated preciousness to these the simplest, most pure, organic and universal signs.

“Besides the obvious appearance of things, everything exists in a parallel world as both a sign and a metaphor,” Lane explained in an interview in Art New Zealand (Winter 2017). “When you are making a painting, you are taking the experiences of things you look at and you are trying to reconstitute those experiences. So it’s like a recipe in a way. The ingredients that make the final dish are a recreation of the experience rather than being a literal representation.”

Preview: 6.30pm Thursday July 6
Exhibition: Friday July 7 to Wednesday July 29