FROM THE BEACH TO THE GRAVE; INTERVIEW WITH TIM STONER
Current lifestyle commercials inform us that happiness is now obtainable â€˜from the beach to the graveâ€™. In Tim Stonerâ€™s life-size figurative paintings we face a world delineated by an aura of light. Drawing on popular imagery as well as painting tradition, his images reflect our everyday hopes and failures in obtaining higher social status within a state of sedated sunlit perfection. The faceless subjects - portrayed in a heavenly frame - are devoid of work and worries. They are reminiscent of the generic nuclear families and couples found in holiday brochures, but by altering the sense of depth, detail and light in the images, Stoner makes us look at leisure in a twisted way. Rutger Wolfson (director of De Vleeshal) and Bregtje van der Haak (documentary director and curator of this exhibition) had a conversation with Tim Stoner in his studio in London.
W: Didnâ€™t you spend some time in Marbella when you started to paint these utopian looking holiday scenes?
S: The idea came about after seeing an exhibition of Goya in a print museum in Marbella, which usually shows really bad art. They had the Tragedy of War series and the Bull Fights and I remember leaving this museum in a deluge of rain, thinking; how could you make art that profound, that brutal, that tragic, with that amount of pathos, while living in Marbella, in wonderful weather, surrounded by beautiful bodies and eating fantastic food? The contradiction between really that profound, emotionally messy art and those idyllic surroundings made me want to put these two things together in a painting.
From that point, in about 1996, I started to paint incredibly beautiful blonde girls on park benches, trying to explore the motif of desire and the leisure space against a pictorial position which emphasizes some kind of horror, misplacement and anxiety.
THAT CERTAIN CATHOLIC GLAMOUR
Tim Stoner's Images of Collective Happiness
His works from the collection of the Deutsche Bank, recently exhibited in the show Blick aufs Ich/ The View upon the Ego in the Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen and, beginning in September, in Man in the Middle in the Kunsthalle in TÃ¼bingen, depict archaic and everyday rituals of collective happiness: Oliver Koerner von Gustorf on the British painter Tim Stoner's utopian leisure scenes.
Lavender, turquoise, royal blue, pistachio green: the powdery hues overlapping in the watercolors and paintings by the young English artist Tim Stoner are resplendent with apparent optimism and reminiscent of the idealized suburban dreams of past decades, memories of a better future longed for by a white middle class in hopeful anticipation of the coming wirtschaftswunder. Summer days in the country club or at the sea, school plays, tennis matches, cocktail parties, barbecues and summer camps, the smoke of menthol cigarettes and gallons of strawberry-colored daiquiri: Stoner transposes the vision of a leisure society populated by perfect families, neighbors, and lovers into a pictorial world stylized to the point of stereotype in which his protagonists appear as faceless silhouettes framed by a glistening halo whose brilliant glare evokes an atomic explosion.