In conversation with Matthew Stone

Mai 9, 2013

Los Angeles

British artist Matthew Stone describes himself as an artist and shaman, existing as a photographer, sculptor, performance artist, curator, writer, optimist and cultural provocateur.

Ecstasy, his current exhibition at Los Angeles-based Subliminal Projects gallery, features new works as well as selections from his Love Focused Like a Laser series (2012) and his Optimism As Cultural Rebellion series (2011). Stone’s black and white photographs capture the sequential movement of bodies using long exposure shots and laser lights, poetically recording elements of the figure, motion, interaction, and performance. His wood works combine color photographs of entangled limbs and twirling bodies with draped fabrics and cloud-strewn skies. The imagery is imprinted on beech or oak veneered MDF, lending an organic texture to the vivid overlap of materials and figures.

We spoke to Matthew Stone and discussed his life as an artist and a shaman, his optimistic approach as well as his current exhibition.

Wertical: Matthew Stone, the artist – how did it start out?
Matthew Stone: I am lucky to come from a family where going to art-school isn’t considered weird or somehow unrealistic. Although I was born in London, really I grew up in a house with no mains electricity and a barn owl as a pet. I understood from early on that life was something that could be creatively determined and in a basic sense that you could go to artschool.

WE: Matthew Stone, the shaman – how did it start out?
MS: I have always had an interest in spirituality and see art as an intrinsically spiritual practice. The word spirituality has become problematic in our times. It seems tied to unscientific thought and religion. A friend once said that leading a spiritual life is leading a meaningful life. Creative people are involved in the process of creating meaning. I consider the role of a shaman to be an individual who enters psychologically dangerous territory for the purpose of gaining subjective knowledge about life, which they then impart to their community. I feel that this idea and activity is not only comparable to the activities of contemporary artists it represents a more useful model for the role of the artist than that of the individual who produces expensive objects and a powerful market.

WE: Do your vocations clash sometimes?
MS: I see all my activities as being interconnected.

WE: You state, “Optimism is the Vital Force that Entangles itself with and then Shapes the Future.” – where do you get your optimism from?
MS: I think it has always been part of my character. Not only am I optimistic, but I feel compelled to infect others with this sense of infinite possibility. Optimism can seem a bit self-helpy or naive, but I firmly believe that it is the springboard from which all conscious activity emerges. The content of culture need not always be positive or optimistic in nature, I see Punk as having been a hugely optimistic re-imagining of a corrupt society. The language was dark and nihilistic but the result was alive with new possibilities and paths towards authenticity.

WE: Your works in fact reveal optimism. What golden thread do your works follow visually?
MS: I blur my eyes when I look at an image to try and see it as a whole. It stops you focusing on one detail and allows you to keep a strong sense of the whole image and what it means in totality. I guess this stems from a desire to find some sort of balance. But I think it has to be a dynamic balance. You can create a balance by watering down all the elements or you can make them all alive and jostling for space and attention. I prefer the latter and in some sense see it as a metaphor for collaboration. Some people think that collaboration is all about compromising and losing sight of what you truly desire as an individual. But really I think the most exciting way to do it is to find ways for uncompromised visions to co-exist.

WE: What exactly do you currently show at Subliminal Projects?
MS: I am showing a series of images printed on wood panels. They all use photography in some way and show nude bodies intertwined. I enjoy composing the images in a formal and visual sense, but really the crux of the work is inside the crafting of the social environment I make to photograph people together so intimately.
There are two huge pieces that are engraved with a computer controlled router. The images that have been engraved into the surface of the piece are originally long exposure photographs lit solely with nightclub lasers. This combination of technology results in ethereal in an organic texture and star-strewn bodies.

Matthew Stone

Subliminal Projects

May 4 – June 1, 2013
1331 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026