Artist Anita De Soto pays attention to women's role in society.

Our female ancestors led mostly anonymous lives, yet their quiet contribution to our society, then and now, has been significant. History has overlooked them by and large, and Anita De Soto, a Lecturer in the Dunedin School of Art, decided to compensate for this in her own way.

Anita has sourced a range of historic photographs from archives, and responded to them in her work, seeking to liberate the women from obscurity. The women chosen are representative of their generation, and Anita faithfully represents their photographic images in realistic paintings. She then overpaints her own paintings, using colour and blurring to draw attention to the women and activate their portraits. The process of layering and smearing paint creates a look that evokes the disintegration of old photographs.

The resulting paintings are unhinged spatially and in time, giving a ghostly impression yet bringing the images into the present day. The paintings reference sentimental nostalgia while also conveying restless movement, to raise viewers' consciousness and provide an opportunity to re-evaluate the role of women in our society .

Image credit: Anita De Soto, used with permission

August 2019