Tony Lane - Practical Metaphysics


Media Release: October, 2006. 

Tony Lane has long been a prominent figure in the cultural landscape of Wellington and New Zealand, but surprisingly, City Gallery Wellington’s Practical Metaphysics is the first-ever large-scale survey of his work.

Lane brews expansive, elegant, mysterious and enchanting images. He depicts objects that are both part of our daily lives and also convey a myriad of cultural, religious and personal meanings. His paintings explore the ongoing tension between the real and the symbolic, embracing all of the inherent conflicts and parallels.

The enigmatic, playful visual language in Lane’s work is deeply connected to painting’s history, from thirteenth century Italian painters such as Giotto, the Spanish still life painters of the seventeenth century, through to twentieth century artists such as Colin McCahon.

Lane sees wonder in the most common objects and believes in the potential of images to encourage insight. Practical Metaphysics is structured in loose thematic clusters to consider the development of motifs between works from different periods. This exhibition, featuring work from 1989 to the present day, takes up the baton from Wellington City Art Gallery’s 1989 artist’s project Tony Lane: Selected Works 1985-1989.

Soon after graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1970, Lane moved to Wellington where he was a significant contributor to the cultural life of the city for twenty-five years. After his vibrant, gestural abstract paintings of the 1970s, the early 1980s saw an introduction of figures amidst the turbulent brush strokes. Lane explores the gamut of historical and contemporary associations surrounding embellishment and decoration; from veneration of the sacred, to display of material wealth.

City Gallery Wellington Director Paula Savage says, “City Gallery Wellington is thrilled to be presenting the largest survey exhibition of Tony Lane’s work to date with an accompanying publication. We are pleased to acknowledge him as a key contemporary artist.” Practical Metaphysics has been made possible by the generous support of ANZ, as Principal Corporate Benefactor of City Gallery Wellington.


Biography: Tony Lane was born in Kati Kati, New Zealand in 1949. He graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University in 1970. He moved to Wellington in 1974 and was based there for twenty-five years. Lane was awarded grants from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council in 1978 and 1984, the later he used to travel to Europe and the United States. In 1988 he returned to Europe, living in Rome and travelling through Spain and Portugal. He was selected for the inaugural Möet and Chandon Award Finalists exhibition in 1989. The following year he was awarded a Goethe Institute scholarship to study the German language and he spent time in Berlin and painted in the Kunsthaus Bethanien, Kreuzberg. 1992-94 saw the international tour of Distance Look Our Way: Ten New Zealand Artists from New Zealand through Spain, The Netherlands and New Zealand. Lane has also exhibited extensively in New Zealand. Since 2002 he has lived and worked in Auckland.City Gallery Wellington, 8 October 2006 – 28 January 2007