“The act of looking twice has always inspired and intrigued me; it’s the fact of seeing, and not being able to see, of knowing, and yet to learn, of being drawn into a picture to discover multiple layers of visual truths, those images that are obvious, and those that are hidden.”(1)
There is a freshness of vision in Paterson’s paintings. Akin to music, his glitter canvases sing with light, colour and rhythm. Each work is constructed from multiple canvases creating a sense of continual movement. “There are unexpected beginnings and terminations that increase the tension of the work.”(2) The works are sharp edged silhouettes composed from layers of glitter dust which can be considered on numerous levels. “Reuben admits his art can be complicated because ‘so many things are involved: the visual, the physical, conscious and subconscious’ yet he’s prepared to distil the appeal of his glitter paintings to its essence.”(3)
The Customs of Tripping demonstrates a multiplicity of meaning and perspectives. Like a time line Reuben Paterson’s glitter paintings lead us through the history of a Pacific landscape. It is at once an observation of ancestral voyages, a nostalgia for the holiday destinations of our youth, the psychedelic era of the 70s, a contemporary reference to both the technological advances of society and to fabric and fashion design.
Evocative of 70s chic holiday postcards, Paterson’s series of smaller diptychs and triptychs further the impression of a Pacific timeline. Painted in glittering hues, these works contain additional animals, people and man-made objects. Elements co-exist; native birds sit on power lines, introduced deer wander the terrain and a hot air balloon drifts amongst pink evening clouds. The works depict a tropical paradise diversified by the progression of present day society. Paterson “exposes a cultural exchange that connects the different strands of his ancestry and points to the polyglot nature of contemporary culture.” (6)
Paterson uses a familiar craft material and transforms it into an art medium of integrity. The Customs of Tripping leads the viewer on a multifaceted trip of spiritual, symbolic, literal and metaphorical intensity.
1. Reuben Paterson, 2004.
2. T J McNamara, “All that Glitters is not Gold,” New Zealand Herald, May 2004.
3. Shelley Bridgeman, “Glitz and Glamour,” New Zealand House and Garden, July 2003/
4. Malcolm Burgess, “Recent Paintings by Reuben Paterson,” New Zealand Herald, July 2003.
5. Richard Dingwall, Family Tribute Woven from Ancestral Strands, Otago Daily Times, 2003.