New Zealand artist Anita DeSoto lives in Waitati, Dunedin and has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for the last 15 years. She has a Master of Fine Arts and has been lecturing in Drawing and Painting at the Dunedin School of Art, Otago Polytechnic since 2004.
In recognition of her contribution to the New Zealand visual arts she was awarded an arts residency in the prestigious Leipzig International Art Program for three months in Leipzig, Germany (2010). In 2014, she was artist in residence at the New Pacific Studios in Vallejo, San Francisco, 2014. She is currently the recipient of the William Hodges fellowship in Southland for 2018.
DeSoto paints gesturally, using broad strokes that appear to blur or smear the images; sometimes her oil paint application is so thick that the strokes drip and distort surrounding forms and give her work a ghostly feel or one of motion or a fleeting moment.
Her recent work focuses on the tableau as a narrative device deployed in figurative painting to portray historical events and the re-interpretation of such events, thus opening windows on appropriation aimed at the invocation of memory and pathos around the intergenerational history of women once marginalized but now re-valued. Connecting earlier paintings with contemporary works utilizing the tableau unlocks the critical potential of this narrative device that enables "gestures that matter" in the socio-political context of contemporary art practice.