Justin Summerton is a contemporary surrealist painter depicting New Zealand in a dreamlike world, frequently presenting the landscape as primeval.
Through his small to large-scale paintings, Summerton reveals his fascination with New Zealand’s natural elements, presenting bodies of water, volcanic cones, mountain ranges, and cloud formations within his works. Summerton adapts these elements, rearranging their form and scale for symbolic or allegorical emphasis in a combination of representational landscapes and surrealist dreamscapes.
Summerton’s highly textured works in oil on canvas and board are created through a technique that has been described as “scrumbling”. By working with this unique brushstroke technique, Summerton creates a stark contrast between light and dark pigments, building layers of colour and texture to modify rather than obscure the previous layer.
Born in Wirral Peninsula, North West England. Summerton’s family emigrated to New Zealand in 1972 when he was four years old. He spent the next two decades in Dunedin, NZ, during which time he completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree (1987) and a Bachelor of Arts degree (1993) at the University of Otago. In 1990, Summerton established a studio flat at St Clair Esplanade in Dunedin, and began his early experiments in oils, particularly focusing on seascapes. The following year he had his first solo exhibition at O’Brooks Gallery in Dunedin.
He has since travelled extensively; painting, exhibiting, showing works, and performing ‘live painting’ sessions in cities throughout UK, Europe, Australia, USA, and New Zealand. His works are held in public collections at Aigantighe Art Gallery of Timaru, Arts House Trust (previously Wallace Arts Trust) at Pah Homestead, Auckland, and in private collections within New Zealand and abroad.
Summerton is now primarily based in Dunedin where he paints full-time.
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