Opens Saturday April 14
Milford Galleries, Queenstown
In his latest display of glitter masterpieces, Reuben Paterson draws on two specific influences: Cook Island tivaevae and the orchid. In both cases, these are not departures from Paterson’s key styles and message, but are rather a development and evolution.
Rarotonga has long fascinated the artist; Paterson spent time on the island as part of an artist residency in 2010. The island also has resonance with Maori history, as one of the presumed departure points for waka heading south for Aotearoa. The mythical archetype of the island paradise has featured in previous work from the artist, notably in his giant sunset beach scenes, and here it is the tivaevae, traditional rhythmically symmetrical botanical patterns, which provide a link to Paterson’s long-held artistic practice. Works like So Let Me Speak of All of Us (2018) and Winika(2018) are distinctly Cook Island inspirations, yet also draw to mind the artist’s heavily floral wallpaper-inspired works.
The dark backgrounds of these works becomes a physical presence in its own right – a “negative space” which has as much weight as the blooms themselves. The background serves two distinct purposes: it carries with it a weight of artistic history, linking it to classical Flemish and Dutch still lifes, (1) and simultaneously, it allows room for the blooms to breathe and take centre stage, amplifying the colour and making the flowers stand clear of the darkness. The soft creams and yellows of Inherit the Earth (2018) stand out like flares from the deep foliage, and the effect is even more dramatic when the subject is a single bloom, as in Love You, Love You More (2017).
The darkened backgrounds also give the feeling of the garden at night, in which the smell of the plants often overwhelms the gloom. (2) Paterson is playing with our senses in these works, making us imagine we smell the blooms in a darkness which – thanks to the characteristics of glitter – is illusory, and actually bright and shimmering.
1. Interview with Reuben Paterson by Lucy Hammonds, in “Blooming new: The rebirth of Reuben Paterson”, Art New Zealand 164, Spring 2017-18.
Milford Galleries | Queenstown
Date(s) - 14/04/2018 - 04/05/2018