The medium of glitter is not one that is easily manipulated, however, New Zealand artist Reuben Paterson has spent the past 20 years developing, refining and mastering his medium. His works are provocative, alluring, and most of all, mesmerising. Black Matters II is a new series of work exploring themes of light and politics, captured in snapshots of brilliant, bursting fireworks.
Drawing visual inspiration from the firework itself, Paterson’s ongoing interest in the way glitter reacts with and is activated by light becomes a reality in both a literal and metaphorical sense. As you experience these works they come to life, mimicking the falling embers and explosions of colours seen against the night sky. Black has repeatedly used by Paterson throughout his practice, whether referencing his Māori decent through kowhaiwhai, or exploring fabric patterns and botanicals, forms are often set within and exaggerated by the contrast that black provides. Through the title Black Matters II, the artist references the Black Lives Matter liberation movement, which has gained significant momentum recently in USA and further abroad. Works such as The Best Orgasm of Your Life employ skin-toned shades to create the colours of fireworks in a moment of unity and defiance against the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests. As this title suggests, a second reading sexualizes the content; bright sparks are a display of passion and delight. Through intricate layering processes of customised shades of glitter, Paterson gives these works depth and the illusion of space. Bursts of light and colour project beyond the surface in a state of flux; an instantaneous live moment captured and enhanced by the glittering medium.