Emotional Manipulation
An exhibition by Matthew Stone

Matthew Stone's new works vibrate between photography and painting, figuration and abstraction, expanding our notions of both. Rising above definitions and directly engaging the possibilities of composition. These works can not be labelled as either or, and should not be viewed as such. Works of art employing new and old artistic techniques. The 20 new beautifully expressive, seemingly abstract, digital paintings in Emotional Manipulation form part of a bold development in the technical, theoretical and aesthetic fields of the artist's practice. They represent a continuation of the works shown at Stone’s two most recent solo shows. Stone hand paints on glass and photographs the brushstrokes, which he then extensively retouches and collages using Photoshop. These digital composites are then printed onto selectively hand primed, raw linen canvas. The resulting 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.

Signalling a shift in Stone’s established visual language, these new works appear to abandon his usual figuration in favour of large scale and colourful brushstrokes. The compositions relate to a sense of movement and entanglement established prior, explicating the ideas of abstraction that Stone began to define in his previous photographic explorations of the body. Whilst the brushstrokes tumble like limbs across the canvas, Stone uses advanced Photoshop layering to weave the individual gestures in ways that would not ordinarily be possible without digital intervention. The digital process remains integral to other aspects of the works; defining scale and the enlargement of brushstrokes, the removal of all dust and blemishes as well as sensitive colour management.

Stone’s works ultimately exist as figurative depictions of abstract images. A similar restructuring of image and representation can be found in Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings depicting enlarged brushstrokes. Lichtenstein’s quoted and hand-rendered strokes impress us by their visual simplification, Stone’s printed photos of similar gestures are actively intensified and thus takes this act a step further.

This process of making vivid and creating a sense of a painterly hyperrealism occurs within the manipulation of photography, not paint. Like Andreas Gursky’s use of digital manipulation to depart from the ‘decisive moment’ towards constructed images, Stone includes photography as only a part of the process. Examining this process immediately offers photography as painting, but perhaps in this case a more fertile ground can be found by examining how these “paintings” might exist as examples of contemporary photography.

Stone’s efforts are sincere in both their questioning of and commitment to paint, remarking: “It feels necessary to challenge the established worship of paint as untouchable cosmic flesh, but in doing this I intend to contribute to the continued legacy of it’s emotionally manipulative power”. These ideas manifest themselves in works that intentionally disrupt notions of what constitutes painting.

Matthew Stone, born 1982 in London where he lives and works, is an artist and shaman. These two interconnected roles are defined by his activities as photographer, sculptor, performer, curator, writer, musician, optimist, and cultural provocateur. He has established a philosophy of Optimism As Cultural Rebellion. Stone's work and thinking go far beyond the remit of his art and his diverse activities address culture as a whole. He recently created the performance Wounded Healer that could be experienced for the first time at Chart Art Fair and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recent solo shows include Cosmic Flesh at Union Gallery, London, and Unconditional Love, The Hole, New York. Emotional Manipulation is Matthew Stone’s third solo exhibition with V1 Gallery.