“Optimism is the Vital Force that Entangles itself with and then Shapes the Future.” - Matthew Stone
Matthew Stone is an artist and shaman. These two interconnected roles are defined by his activities as photographer, sculptor, performance artist, curator, writer, Optimist and cultural provocateur. Stone’s work and thinking goes far beyond the remit of his art, and his power of existence is recreating the role of the artist in the 21st century. Recognising this, The Sunday Times recently placed him at number one in the arts section of their “Power players under 30” list.
After Graduating from Camberwell Art School in 2004, with a first-class degree in Painting, Stone spearheaded South London’s !WOWOW! art collective, organizing guerrilla art exhibitions and throwing London’s most notorious and decadent squat parties. Dazed and Confused magazine featured the collective, claiming the children of !WOWOW! “would live on in legend for years to come.” and i-D Magazine described Matthew, saying “He gave birth to a happening, and all of a sudden, in his wake, London was exciting again.” In 2008 — !WOWOW! took over Tate Britain — attracting a record 4,000 people, who came to witness one of his performances.
Stone’s whole being is geared toward a life lived as art. His personalised definition of Optimism as a method for avant-garde thought and art practice, inverts the nihilistic cultural dialogues of the late twentieth century to create a necessary space for vibrant new ways of being. Saatchi Online said that Stone’s work “definitely points to the art of tomorrow, I think, an immaterial quality equal parts idealist belief and cynicism, working as an alternative, very palpable reality running along the rest of society.” Esteemed curator and ex-head of the Royal Academy; Norman Rosenthal said simply “he has invented a new ‘ism’—Optimism.”
Stone has provided the soundtrack to each of close friend, designer Gareth Pugh’s fashion shows and films, and was a resident DJ at London’s legendary nightclub Boombox.
Though perhaps most known for his painfully beautiful photographic nudes, most exciting is Stone’s recent move into video. He has begun to direct his own video-based artworks as well as a rapturous, celebrated and daring directorial debut in the form of a music video for cult heroes These New Puritans. Following the video’s release, NME instantly placed Matthew at number 14 in their list of the “50 Most Fearless People In Music”.
Churning bodies dissect rhythmic windows that open onto varied states of concentrated being. A collage of limbs and interconnected consciousness, involving and depicting transcendental states, meditations and ecstatic dance, spin into contemporary motion. The body is shown and used to free the viewer from their own. Stone’s work revolves specifically around creative interactions and community, based on the idea that individual autonomy can be successfully combined with the power of collectivity.
Recent exhibitions and performances have taken place at the Baltic, the Royal Academy, the ICA and Tate Britain.
Biography written by Karley Sciortino.