We Must Inhabit This Place
Landscape painting, in its diverse forms, has held a prominent place in the New Zealand canon. Artists such as Rita Angus extracted a regional essence in the forms of the landscape, while Colin McCahon sought to reveal a spiritual truth.
Tony Lane, on the other hand, while incorporating such searching of both regional and spiritual identities, combines contemporary and medieval European influence to create powerful imagery that lingers in the mind. Always expanding on a unique visual language developed over a 30-year career, Tony Lane’s contribution is altogether new.
Black Asterisk, in association with Mark Hutchins Gallery, presents 'We Must Inhabit this Place', a selection of Lane’s latest oil paintings. Landscape is reduced to its essential form, the earth stripped of vegetation to reveal a barren moon-like surface dotted with volcanic forms - a distinctive feature of our geographically young country. Iconography adapted from the visual language of early Christianity features prominently in Lane’s work. Here, turquoise oval disks float over the volcanic shapes, suggesting a meeting of heaven and earth, the colour of these disks intensified through the contrast with the monochromatic tones of the earth.
There is a reverent weight and physicality to Lane’s paintings, heightened by the use of metallic schlagmetal and gold leaf, again reminiscent of the medieval period, where paintings were in direct contact with spiritual forces.
Yet, one could just as easily draw parallels with sources of imagery that saturate the twenty first century. The digitalized computer-generated brickwork-like landscapes in early electronic gaming come to mind as do the distorted images of distant planets transmitted back to earth from Voyager space probes.
Like the oval motifs of an infinite loop, Lane’s paintings link the past with the present suggesting metaphysical truth beyond our grasp. Despite the adaption of historic techniques and motifs, these landscapes often evoke feelings of familiarity, an impossible sense of having been there before. Lane is creating forms that resonate across time, and play with the historical perspectives. In a similar way, the works act as sites of projection of the viewers own narratives, emotions and memories. This timeless quality, along with Lane’s technical finesse, ensures landscapes with enduring appeal. These are fine places for us to inhabit.