Zarahn Southon is an Auckland based painter of Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. On completion of a Bachelor of Visual Arts (1998) he had several solo shows and in 2005 was awarded a Contemporary Pacific Art Scholarship, which funded study in Florence, Italy. In 2007 he was awarded a scholarship from the classical art school Studio Escalier in the Loire Valley, France. He then furthered his studies with the senior lecturer at Studio Escalier and pioneer of Restructured Realism Ted Seth Jacobs in San Francisco. Southon regards these periods of study in Italy, France and America as highly influential on his current practice.
Described by an art critic as New Zealand’s own Lucian Freud, Southon explores allegorical themes, portraiture and still life within his personal take on Dutch genre painting. Also apparent are references to contemporary Classical Realism, Restructured Realism and 19thcentury Realism.
“It takes courage and ambition to go against the grain of fashion. From his earliest exhibitions Zarahn Southon has devoted himself to figure painting, a neglected style of art amid the flood of DVDs, installations and conceptual works … What links these paintings with the Dutch Masters is dexterity in handling paint to convey appearances. It is all based on the accurate observation of individuals.” T. J McNamara
Southon has exhibited regularly at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington. Public institutions holding Southon’s works include the Auckland City Council and the Wallace Trust Collection at the Pah Homestead.