‘And a double vision is always with me.
With my inward eye, ’tis an old man grey.
With my outward eye, a thistle across my way.’
William Blake [To Thomas Butts]: With Happiness stretch’d across the hills, 1802
Lorca would have told us that a photograph can never possess el duende: that quality of human movement that makes something unforgettable. Lorca believed duende could be found in all the arts, not just in dance, and that it can only come into existence when someone is totally possessed by an outside of the body experience, one where subject and object are conjoined, where the physical world and the artist merge with the spirit; and when this happens forms arrive as if ‘shaped like wind on sand’ (Lorca quoted in Berger, J (2016) Confabulations p. 99)
Adam Stone’s paintings give to his investigations of a photographic archive that duende that Lorca saw as essential to the recreation of a lived experience. Stone’s striving to find a something in the act of painting, means that images arrive and then retreat in a maze of mark-making. Each painting as it emerges through the fragments of a previous image picks up traces of other lives, ‘enough suggestion of a double life’ to ensure that his audience is always engaged.
Because of a photograph’s supposedly ‘indexical’ relationship with the world, the distinction between image and reality has often been blurred, but by adding a further painted layer Stone opens a door into another reading, one that questions the basic assumption of the relationship between a photograph and reality.
A photograph is seen as evidence of a subject’s existence. But it is also an absence. Its very momentariness makes us aware of the time that was not captured, its framing makes us aware of what was not in the frame. In these spaces and times not recorded lies nostalgia, and in nostalgia we draw away from reality and internalise the world, constructing it of memories and reflections, rather than experiencing it as something real. In being shorn of time, a photograph sucks us into it, so that we give to it the time it doesn’t possess.
Stone understands that a second layer of vision is needed in order to construct a base for meaning that was only a possibility in the first; his paintings reach down deeply into the time and spaces that the photographs cut and sliced into and they begin to repair the wounds of absence by giving back the richness of a life’s existence, by hand crafting and leaving traces of a bodily dance embedded into the materiality of oil paint as it runs and smears and is brushed across the ghostly textures of previous images. These are paintings about the difference between reality and what is real, and Stone shows us what it is like to be a ‘real’ painter.