“Come Back” is Anita DeSoto’s first exhibition since her residency in Leipzig in 2010, and it reveals that residency has had a profound impact upon every aspect of her painting practise. The palette has broadened enormously, the role of story-telling is noticeably more complex, certain and assured. The centrality of autobiography and (Christian-inspired) symbolism has been replaced by surreal allegories which have ‘push-pull’ tensions and suggestive conflicts that traverse home and event, reaching into the green-field environment where people live and act.
Trees, branches and leaves sprout from hands; men are being pulled from the ground, with shuttlecock-shaped petticoats of trees where legs should be. This powerful environmental metaphor and visual motif functions in numerous ways and elicits much wonder. What are we seeing? Are these dreams with messages of hope, moments of despair or successful rescue? Or is it uproot and dislocation? This plurality and ambiguity transforms DeSoto’s work.
DeSoto’s masterful use of light animates all the works as do sensations of suspension and the on-going processes of a journey. Moments of spiritual quest appear yet these teeter between offerings of loss and gain. There are incidences of farce everywhere - a teapot being poured into rising water; a half-figure emerges from a table; a bowed girl stands atop coloured bubbles; a woman - her head contained by a bubble - views her own reflection or magnifies the world.