Two intentions underpin van der Aa’s practice, which he has summarised as ‘revisiting and working within the formal language of Minimalism’ and ‘reintroducing the poetry of everyday life into that visual vocabulary’. Typically, his installations are ordered arrangements in which multiple two- or three-dimensional components are contained so as to interact, while also being given room to breathe. Whether found or constructed, the chosen objects are set in place with modest certainty. Where colour is present, this dimension further contributes to the subtle visual or spatial relationships being formed. As a given, the exhibition space also invites van der Aa’s consideration: the objects become temporarily integral, part of a game plan that dissects volumes, calls attention to quiet corners and confidently activates the receptive space.

As interdependent units in this game, van der Aa’s individual puzzle pieces also regularly interrogate the idea of the standard rectangular block or painted surface. Constructed works may be complemented with found pieces – readymade minimalist paintings that in a previous life might have been breadboards, table tops or bar stool seats. As grouped arrangements, these unconventional collections of colour swatches or samples, industrial templates or oblique prototypes do indeed convey a poetry: there are interesting things happening beneath the surface. Also vaguely iconoclastic, the grouped works do not present themselves as objects to be exclusively beheld and adored, but with a lightness of touch seem to point outwards to a much broader stage.

Ken Hall, 2009

10 Easy Pieces - Campbell Grant Galleries

Paris-based Christchurch artist Richard van der Aa is [currently] showing work at Campbell Grant Galleries. A painting major at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts and 1985 graduate, he has lived in Paris since 2005 after living in Sydney for 16 years. Van der Aa has exhibited in Australasia and his current works "deal with formal issues of geometry yet with a touch of openness and fun", says gallery owner Grant Banbury. "Mostly employing 'found materials', these subtle-coloured, sensitive pieces allow the viewer to engage in a multiple of 'readings'".

Christchurch Press, 3 Nov 2007