Reuben Paterson is a painter whose signature use of glitter dust has earned him international acclaim and acknowledgment as one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary Mâori artists. As the catalyst and visual allegory for Paterson’s spiritual ideas and experiences, glitter dust and its intrinsic light reflective qualities transcend the "everyday, the mundane or the worldly to imply the celestial, the spiritual and the celebratory....The qualities of light in glitter also intersect with the moral temperaments of a wider art history, where the art of our great painters used light to imply sacred knowledge and wisdom." (1)
Peep Show reveals a fresh and dynamic development in Paterson’s painting where the organic fabric motif and diagonal split so prominent in recent work, has evolved into a mesmerising kaleidoscope effect. Repetitious swirling patterns refract, multiply and radiate; visual sounds reverberate; rhythmic energy and drama flux.
For Paterson the kaleidoscope is a metaphor that expresses modernity’s constant and rapid change which "ultimately reveals surrender to our own instability to be captivated by a new way of seeing the world....The kaleidoscope, glitter and fabric patterns become more than materials of transient revelatory pleasure, they become tools to think with that can inspire ever-widening referential patterns and imaginative speculation to capture life in progress rather than render it static." (2)
Beyond the immediate seductive visual allure of Paterson’s work there are in-depth levels of significance and revelation. Paterson explores interconnecting relationships, both emotional and spiritual, and conveys intangible ideas conceived in terms of whakapapa, as drawn from his personal philosophies and values. The familiarity of nostalgic fabric motifs, adept as memory cues drawn from wallpaper, Hawaiian shirts, his father’s ties and kuia’s party dresses unify an amalgam of references to reveal an independent genealogy of past, present and future. "Each time he unravels his known and inherited histories in glitter he imparts his post-modern identity and informs on his private and personal connections with friends and his whakapapa." (3)
1. Artist statement, 2008.
2. Artist statement, 2008.
3. Ngahiraka Mason, “Open for Interpretation,” Art New Zealand, Summer 2005.