Reuben Paterson – Narcissus, Te Pütahitanga ö Rehua.


Reuben Paterson, Narcissus, Te Pütahitanga ö Rehua. Limited Edition Digital Animation, DVD – 4 mins, 22 secs – looped, 2005. Edition of 70.

In 2004, Reuben Paterson stated “The act of looking twice has always inspired and intrigued me; it’s the fact of seeing, and of not being able to see, of knowing, and of 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. Optical art in my opinion places a binding emphasis on this form of perception. Optical art distils the principles of art and uses them singly with force and commitment. It is the art of pure essentials that relies on total abstraction and visual confrontation.”

This was the core statement of the exhibition Narcissus which included the digital animation Te Pütahitanga ö Rehua  “the very old and traditional word to describe the water used for blessing yourself after being exposed to the many realms Maori live in”. The black and white designs of Te Pütahitanga ö Rehua surge in waves, transfixing the viewer with its mesmeric movement. “Narcissus is about the reflection of us on land, or the reflection of what exists today and what the land has truly absorbed; the histories of Maori people and how they inhabit New Zealand in a memory that doesn’t exist for anybody. In comparison, you find English histories in monoliths and heritage site buildings.”

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