On the occasion of New Photography ARTUNER had the pleasure of hosting an intimate evening at the artist’s studio in Hackney, London where the accompanying conversation was recorded between Matthew Stone and curator Norman Rosenthal.
To consider the work of Matthew Stone (b. 1982) within any singular fine art discipline is both problematic and unnecessary. The relevance and detail of his perspective translates as much within the space of a gallery as it does within the various cross-cultural disciplines that he engages. New Photography is an original series of four works digitally printed on canvas that chronicle the artist’s accomplished manipulations of visual imagery and his continued commitment to examining the lenses through which human behaviours exist and revise.
Stone began his career by constructing a series of social passages that took place in London during the mid 00’s. He was instrumental to the arrangement of the !WOWOW! collective, coordinating a group of young multidisciplinary artists and events in squatted buildings in Peckham, South London; as well as the movement of sub-cultural understanding that came to define areas in the East-End of London. Stone’s ability to constantly create and then participate in his own potent creative social constructs is integral to determining his output as a visual artist.
For this reason, engaging in Stone’s fine art practice requires a deeper understanding of how the imagery he generates is realised. The artist’s earliest photographs related directly to the social scenes he worked to establish. The stylised and dramatic works featured the nude, entangled limbs of his network of transgressive collaborators. A rhythm emerges here that is defined by his ability to maintain simultaneous roles; first as instigator of action, then documentarian and finally as aesthetic philosopher.
This systematic arrangement of process repeats in this new series of works. Stone begins by applying colourful brushstrokes on glass which he documents photographically. The resulting images are then digitally manipulated before being printed onto linen canvas. Here Stone presents figurative, photographic depictions of traditional ‘abstract’ painted gestures that can be understood to depict the organised social encounters from which he has built his persona and philosophies.
Whilst paint might now take the place of flesh, the question of objectively documenting versus subjectively representing the intangible nature of human behaviour remains. The ingenuity of these new works is in Stone’s handling, and digitally intensified representation of paint – a subversive gesture that simultaneously romanticises and destabilises a material that so often carries meaning akin to the ‘cosmic flesh’ of art history.
Through the title New Photography Stone draws attention to the idea that more fertile ground is found by examining how these works, that appear to be paintings, might exist as examples of contemporary photography. Alongside the narratives that emerge from his personal history of socially embedded pieces, this new imagery is a firm and lucid statement on the new opportunities photography and digital processing present in extending the visual and practical potential of conventional painting.
Text by Harry Woodlock