Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Richard Stone

Richard Stone creates paintings, sculptures, and installations that form constellations of meaning. While the works are all distinct—for example, a series of bronze figurines half-covered in smooth, bulbous wax, or a carved white marble flag that ripples in an unseen wind—when exhibited together, they form a cohesive yet mysterious network.

Richard Stone. After,2011; antique oil on board, surface partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood molding, water white miroguard AR glazing; 20 x 16 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist.

Richard Stone. After, 2011; antique oil on board, surface partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood molding, water white miroguard AR glazing; 20 x 16 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

Stone is chiefly concerned with art and cultural history. He explores the past through the processes of additive and subtractive layering, which become manifest in his constructed constellations. His work poses many questions: What does it mean to strip a flag of its identifying features? To sand down and whitewash a once-finished painting? Or to wax-coat the upper body of a small bronze figure? But the most central question is: How do these objects engage one another and their context in a gallery space?

Richard Stone. Only in the ruins will you be free, 2014; Statuario marble, carrara;57 x 90 x 10 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist.

Richard Stone. Only in the Ruins Will You Be Free, 2014; Statuario marble, carrara; 57 x 90 x 10 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Only in the Ruins Will You Be Free (2014) is an elegantly carved flag that captures a frozen moment of visual and textual reduction. By creating the object in white marble—a material with a complex history of its own—Stone has suspended nationalistic belief systems and allowed the sculptural and material essence of the flag to be contemplated singularly. Further, this work becomes a potential symbol for a kind of cross-border art-ism, in which the story of Western art—derived from Greco-Roman sculpture—stands in for a nation.

Richard Stone. Waiting for England, parts i-iv, 2012; antique oil on boards, surfaces partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood moldings, waterwhite miroguard AR glazing; from bottom right to bottom left counterclockwise: 25 x 35 x 2; 12 x 11 x 2; 21 x 18 x 2; 15 x 20 x 2all in centimeters. Courtesy of the artist. 

Richard Stone. Waiting for England, Parts I-IV, 2012; antique oil on boards, surfaces partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood moldings, waterwhite miroguard AR glazing; from bottom right to bottom left counterclockwise: 25 x 35 x 2 cm.; 12 x 11 x 2 cm.; 21 x 18 x 2 cm.; 15 x 20 x 2 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

Waiting for England, Parts I-IV (2012) is a group of four altered antique landscape paintings. When shown together, they give a glimpse of an England that is simultaneously formed and reforming—erased but composed anew. It is in works like Waiting for England that Stone displays a criticality of the additive processes of historical narrative creation, while also entertaining the importance of having a succinct history to push against.

Richard Stone. Waiting for England, part Ii, 2012; antique oil on board, surface partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood moldings, waterwhite miroguard AR glazing; 12 x 11 centimeters.  Courtesy of the artist.

Richard Stone. Waiting for England, Part I, 2012; antique oil on board, surface partly removed, whitewashed, lime wood moldings, waterwhite miroguard AR glazing; 12 x 11 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

What is so compelling in these works is their sheer possibility, engaging two ends of a chronology as they present simultaneously what exists and what is still forming; present in the concept and materials of Stone’s paintings there is something of both the before and the after, the pre- and the post-, that function together to offer a unique place in time.

Richard Stone. The Rescuer, 2014; bronze, patina; 57 x 23 x 23 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist.

Richard Stone. The Rescuer, 2014; bronze, patina; 57 x 23 x 23 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

In similar fashion, Stone’s small bronze and wax sculptures employ both additive and subtractive layering. The Rescuer (2014) casts the romantic figure of a man looking for his quarry—the rescued—but is instead coated in layers of black molten wax that obscure the facial features and detail of his expression. While his hand is clearly raised to his forehead in a classical search position—shielding the eyes for a better view—little else is known about the figure.

Richard Stone. Narcissus and the ground,2011; antique spelter, wood, wax; 15 x 5 x 4 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist. 

Richard Stone. Narcissus and the Ground, 2011; antique spelter, wood, wax; 15 x 5 x 4 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

In Narcissus and the Ground (2011), Stone engulfs the top half of a bronze figure (presumably a representation of Narcissus) with a thick layer of black wax. The end result is an unidentifiable figure with arms, neck, head, and torso engulfed in a bulbous solid. While Stone has clearly added material to the figure, he has done so reductively by erasing the very features that Narcissus lost himself in while staring pathologically into the mirror-flat surface of the water. What would Narcissus make of his new exterior? When looking at these sculptural figures, one simultaneously wonders what they used to be and what they are becoming.

Richard Stone’s work is a study in contrasts. He harnesses contrasts toward the refinement of a delicate balance between history and the present, questions and answers, narratives and anti-narratives. Much of Stone’s work has a poetic airiness and alacrity that absorbs his viewer in a distinct gathering of ideas rich in historical, cultural, conceptual, and material juxtapositions.

Richard Stone lives and works in London, UK. He has an MA from Central Saint Martins, UK. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions including cities: London, UK; Siena, IT; Manchester, UK; New York, US; and Newcastle, UK. In 2013 he was part Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still-Life Tradition, by Michael Petry and published in Dutch, English, and German. His works are held in private collections in the UK, Europe, and the United States. 

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