Reuben Paterson


Reuben Paterson was born in Auckland in 1973, of Ngati Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Tūhourangi heritage.

One of New Zealand’s most exciting visual artists, Reuben Paterson incorporates formal painting properties of sharp line and ornate detail with specially commissioned glitter colours to elicit curiosity and joy. His use of traditional motif produces works that link to memories of recent and ancient pasts; memories that are visceral, tangible and intangible. Paterson has also diversified his range of subjects to include animals and bird life and has extended his practice to include sculpture; similarly created in his signature glitter style.

Reuben Paterson’s glitter-paintings explore the complexities of social and familial relationships. Beneath the immediate and alluring layers of reflected light and colour, he examines personal and social histories in physical and metaphorical layers, looking at how memories of family and place can be manipulated and distorted over time. Paterson’s practice demonstrates states of beautiful, unsettling flux.

Paterson’s mark-making includes use of kōwhaiwhai patterns, vintage floral textile designs, and geometric tessellations. The patterns are memory cues, and the refractive, reflective glitter disrupts the flat surfaces, bringing life and movement to each work. Flowers ‘take root in the surface of the canvases and blossom above the picture plane; kaleidoscopic rotations of patterns become geometric landscapes; traditional Māori motifs are re-created referencing Paterson’s whakapapa and his place in it.

Reuben Paterson has firmly secured his place as one of the leading contemporary artists currently working in New Zealand. Since debuting as the youngest ever recipient of the Möet et Chandon Fellowship in 1997, additional residencies have taken him to New York, Greece and Korea. Paterson has received many significant accolades, including the Wallace Arts Trust Development Award 2005. His works can be found in major public institutions throughout New Zealand and Australia.

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