Peter Haarhaus’ work has consistently focussed on the detail; closing in to then enlarge the subtleties—be it in a face, of an animal, or, more recently, in urban and industrial materialities. A keen horseman, sailor, and technologist, the artist is as concerned with the forms of nature as with the natural elements inherent in man-made form.
His photographs of the city take us both very close-up to and aback from areas of urban landscape to present patterns large and small. Cracks in the road are decontextualised to present the possibility of a river; a metal lamppost recalls the organism of a beehive; a car yard presents as a cellular formation. There are few people, the light is bright and clear, and the pallet is greys, white, and the primaries – the very principal of visual things.
Outstandingly colourful is the Billboard series, which shows citizens dwarfed if not disappeared by massive blocks of shouting colour.
These latest works, together with the rows of imported cars in Industrial and empty tower blocks under construction in Wrap It, suggest a subtle yet focused politics.
Compositionally beautiful, both the urban and rural (in Roadtrip NZ) scenes present scenes organised and framed so as to insist on their own formality rather than on their potential inhabitants. These are places emptied out of people to reveal the surprisingly abstract details, patterns, and shapes that make our everyday surroundings.