Justin Summerton's works are characterised by surrealist landscapes in which New Zealand plays a prominent role and could be described as ‘utopian’. Blurring the lines between dream and reality, the scenes he paints plunges spectators to a world where nothing is impossible. His fascination for nature and all its elements, such as the sea, the clouds, the rocks or the mountains breathes through each one of his works. Some works of this Dunedin-based artist have already been sold at auctions and are part of private collections such as The Wallace Arts Trust Collection.
Justin Summerton was part of the Nomadic Art Gallery's digital exhibition "Alienation". Contextualisation of his work within the exhibition theme:
“Pool Matiatia (Waiheke)” (2018) as a painting stands halfway between parody and self-reflection, between representing the landscape and entering a dreamscape. At first you think you are in Waiheke Island (and you could be) but Summerton takes delight in deconstructing proportion, linear perspective and color (dark-light) theory. In other words, the artist recreates a landscape molding it to his vision, leaving symbolic traces behind.
One of those traces is the dichotomy between nature (raw beauty of the fauna and flora of Waiheke) and human elements (the skyline of Auckland in the background and the illuminating pool in the foreground). Opposites can co-exist but at what price? By combining those opposite scenes to create a composite view, choosing tricky spaces and muddling our perception of distance, you seem to advance and recede at the same time but in the end, just like the woman in the pool, you are going nowhere. Your eyes stay fixed on the unreal blueness and blown-up size of the pool while starting to think about the melancholic indulgence of having everything. Nothing in the birds-eye view painting suggests happiness.
Materialistic excesses offer no way out to a happy life. The beauty of nature cannot be replaced and the fact that the woman in the pool seems to realize this makes the painting all the more destructive. The effect is one of stylization and artificiality, drawing on the aesthetic vocabulary of Surrealism and conceptual inheritance of David Hockney."
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