David knew he wanted to act when he was eight years old and acting in his first play, Little Red Riding Hood.David Eggleton considers the remarkable radiance and Canterbury swamp fog of Tony de Lautour’s paintings, in this mid-career survey at Dunedin Public Art Gallery.His production company is called Tool Shed Productions.His earliest television roles were for the series Xena: Warrior Princess and Being Eve starting in 1996.He already had a long-standing interest in collecting folk art as well as antique curios from garage sales and auction houses.In this show, old-fashioned display cabinets contain a few examples of the artist’s self-made ceramics and reworked found objects.The map is the territory and de Lautour is our guide to the labyrinth, making a fantastic inventory of its lairs, dens and castle keeps.Over his career as an artist, Tony de Lautour has fused an encyclopedic grasp of Modernist painting’s strategies with a NZ iconography of emblems, tokens, insignia — referencing, among other things, Colin Mc Cahon’s waterfall fetish, Don Peebles’ relief constructions, Bill Hammond’s joke-shop bogans — making borrowings, pilferings, appropriations galore, all skewed, though, to his own peculiar heraldic vision and owned in its cause.
This painting is a phantasmagoria of signs and markings, intended to bring to mind Christchurch as a mood or feeling sometime early in the 21st century.
These imply an underclass: pie-eyed and homebake-hammered denizens in neighbourhoods barely a stone’s throw from those of the righteous citizens of nine-to-five Christchurch going about their lawful business.
You can envisage the characters in these portraits as skinheads back in the day, stomping through Cathedral Square or slithering down back alleys up to no good.
But these suites of works with their harmonies of shapes and colours also remain freighted with personal associations and domestic allusions — like a flatpack Christchurch unloaded from a shipping container and sponsored by Ikea.
When he left Ilam Art School in the late 1980s, de Lautour worked for a while in a second-hand goods store in central Christchurch.
For nearly three decades he has constructed and deconstructed Christchurch and environs as a psychic node, from colonial topographies and settler culture, to land ownership and globalisation, to the shape of things to come following the Grand Slam which pancaked the centre of the city on 22 February 2011, and the old architectural order vanished in a cloud of dust.