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Matthew Stone: Longing for something real in this digital age

People listen to digitally rendered music, but most people are not familiar with digital paintings.

Choi & Larger Gallery in Seoul is holding a solo exhibition of works by London-based artist Matthew Stone, featuring some 20 digital paintings under the title “Small Awakenings.” 

Matthew Stone’s 2019 painting “Holding (Removed)” (Choi & Lager)
Matthew Stone’s 2019 painting “Holding (Removed)” (Choi & Lager)
Matthew Stone’s 2019 painting “Blue Sphere” (Choi & Lager)
Matthew Stone’s 2019 painting “Blue Sphere” (Choi & Lager)

Stone utilizes both traditional painting tools and new technologies in his art, which usually requires twice as much time to make because of the additional processes involved.

Stone first makes brushstrokes and photographs them. The brushstroke images are then used to build figures with the help of several computer programs, including 3D modeling.

In the virtual space, he adjusts textures, lighting and color intensity and prints his computerized images on a canvas of plain linen, adding an organic and corporeal sense to the final product.

Stone’s digital paintings have both real and unreal qualities, just as we live in a world that has both corporeal and virtual realities.

By extensively utilizing both traditional and contemporary tools, Stone explores the contemporary generation that has grown up surrounded by constantly evolving technology.

“In a way, so much of the technology is taking us away from our embodied physical and emotional humanity. Things have been becoming more virtual,” Stone said.

Even though the internet, for instance, has allowed us to stay constantly connected with others, it has also kept us apart in the real world, according to the artist.

Stone uses new technologies because they are part of the language of his generation. But, at the same time, he combines them with qualities of traditional paintings -- such as brushstrokes and Baroque influences.

“There is this desire to come back to something which is real. In my work, I feel like I am trying to navigate that and to use the digital to come back to something which is human. It’s not just like trying to make it look like weird AI,” Stone added.

Stone said he thinks there is spiritual and shamanistic potential in creativity. Yet he is reluctant to use the nomenclature “art shaman,” which he had earlier adopted for himself, having developed the concept based on famous German artist Joseph Beuys.

“Now, I feel like the more I know, the less I know,” Stone said.

By Shim Woo-hyun (