In His Latest Paintings, Matthew Stone Remixes Digital and Analog Practices

Matthew Stone, a young performance artist, DJ, writer, and “provocateur,” bases much of his work around the idea that to be optimistic in itself is an act of “cultural rebellion.” Pushing against what he perceives to be a uniquely 20th-century brand of creativity-stifling nihilism, Stone advocates for enthusiasm and play in life and work—the boundaries between which, in his practice, are often murky. His latest solo show, “Emotional Manipulation,” at Copenhagen’s V1 Gallery, brings his brand of madcap conceptual whimsy to painting—or, at least, something similar to painting, in that it includes both paint and canvas. 

For “Emotional Manipulation,” Stone has created twenty of what he refers to as “retouched paintings.” To create them the artist paints large, colorful strokes on glass and photographs them; after importing the images into Photoshop, he then retouches the brushstrokes and arranges them, creating a collage based on his own marks. These digital brushstrokes are then printed on hand-primed, raw linen canvas in a process that finds novel use for analog tools in a digital world. 

In paintings such as Corrupting Force (2014), Stone’s brushwork is alternately wild and tightly controlled; the digital editing at times leaves the collaged paint’s edges oddly hard for a technique so often associated with loose gestures. Stone’s paintings are joined by a selection of sculptures, three-dimensional wood panels structures created using a similar technique. 

The series marks just another genre for the artist; Stone’s first solo show documented members and friends of the !WOWOW! collective, a Peckham-based group that also includes the fashion designer Gareth Pugh—a close collaborator of Stone’s—and the performance artist Millie Brown. Occasionally mentioned as potential heirs to the cultural influence exerted by the Young British Artists, the !WOWOW! collective got its start in a series of club nights and a shared squat house. Stone himself has worked in nearly every medium possible, including a series of recent photo-collages; with “Emotional Manipulation” he continues to stretch his compositional prowess and test the boundaries of traditional genres, inventing techniques fresh and, yes, boundlessly optimistic. 

Molly Osberg

Emotional Manipulation” is on view at V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, Nov. 28, 2014–Jan. 5, 2015.

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