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WILLIAM STEIN

 

Dazed Digital interview - February 2015
Actress and William Stein get audio-visual - HALF/LIVING

With differences so deep they might frighten other collaborators away – their ways of working, their crafts, their locations – these contrasts were instead embraced and celebrated. “William is a fine artist. He doesn't work with computers to create his work, and so his discipline to his art is extremely focused,” Actress explains. “Whereas I can create multiple ideas and then program a computer to generate me even more ideas and variations of those ideas. I think the two methods have coerced a liminal space for us to work from.”...

Read interview HERE
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Dazed Digital interview - January 2014
The Artists Who Drew Ghettoville

DD: How did you develop your idea for the album cover?

William Stein: It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this, so it was an exciting challenge. But I suppose I approached this project with exactly the same preoccupations that I do my paintings - to try and remain open, to move my own thoughts into the background, and to then attempt to bring a sense of something to light.

Read interview HERE
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Traction Magazine interview - October 2013

Your paintings are very emotive in their treatment of abstraction. How do the recurring motifs in your paintings resonate personally with you?

I think this question cuts straight to the underlying activity of my painting practice. When I paint, I put myself in the work, and I am an emotional being, so one thing must surely lead to the other – I do not close myself off when I work, so yes, the works are emotive. The recurring motifs are the conduit, the link from myself, to my work, to my viewer. They begin as inarticulate shapes, objects, but I hope that once they have been worked, caressed, beaten, they will carry a voice and a story, albeit an unknowable, unknown, abstracted story....

Read interview HERE
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Charles Darwent article - The Independent 10/06/12
RA Summer Exhibition review

Young blood and a fresh hanging policy at the Royal Academy kick-start a show traditionally immobilised by portraits of tabbies...
...I had never heard of William Stein, although his engagingly neurotic 'Nerves' – oil, scratchy pencil and copper leaf on gesso – makes me know I will again.
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Mark Hudson article - The Telegraph 31/05/12
Royal Academy Exhibition: Middle Class? Stuffy? Not Us

William Stein, who graduated from the Slade School three years ago, whose work investigates the boundaries between narrative and abstraction, is exactly the kind of articulate, ambitious young artist the Academy is delighted to see in the Summer Exhibition. "The world of contemporary art galleries in east and south London doesn't relate much to other parts of society, it's visited by like–minded people who are used to seeing a certain kind of art," he says. "So to see how my work stands up in the Academy alongside landscapes and paintings of dogs is potentially very interesting."
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Studio 1.1, London
Scatter
2012
Exhibition catalogue, download opposite...

Harlequinade. In Fragonard and (better) in Watteau, (invented) characters are placed in (equally invented) scenes. The narrative is not so much played out as interrupted. Between the acts, the actors’ lives take over. The parti-coloured costumes and panstick are still on but their roles have been discarded. A different author’s hand is in charge -the brush that colours their silks and records their unguarded moments, sets them in a world that is newly improvised around them.

Here in Stein’s entirely abstract paintings, arrangements of cone, cube and sphere, there is nevertheless a sense of a drama, a scene, an off-stage from which these ‘figures’ step forward in readiness for their cue. The titles range from the Turneresque specifics of ‘Labourers in the Distance’ an observed (or remembered) scene, to the intensely personal ‘To Look through the Window...’. One is drawn again to the idea of actor and the stepping in and out of scenes and that slippage between mask and true identity.

Waiting, falling, tumbling, colliding and again waiting, there is a fugue of action and rest in Stein’s small panels. A sometimes breathless stillness that brings us almost to a moment that could be of trepidation as well as joy.

That these intensely ‘worked’ and meticulously prepared panels incorporate gold and copper leaf brings inevitably to mind the tradition of icon painting. But how (except in the cosmic sense) can there be an abstract icon? By humanising the subject, secularising entirely the central figure (although of course the Platonic forms themselves have allegorised the sacred in many traditions). Here the gold, the copper deflect the viewer, (defining and at the same time exploding the frame) making one more aware of the space one occupies outside the painting, offstage, oneself.

It is this humanistic shift from the universal to the particular, the flux within and between each painting that sets a scene for a very modern interpretation of the drama of artist and model.... painter and viewer. A beautiful Harlequinade of role and reality, story-telling and truth.

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(standard) INTERVIEW, 11th October 2011
Interview about processes/practices/works/methods

Can you briefly describe what you do?
I make paintings on chalk gessoed panels. This very particular ground allows both a light and vigorous approach, and so the works are layered, moulded, and excavated into their final incarnation. They explore an interior life, drawing attention away from the known, and towards our more essential selves.

What drives you to make work?
An ineluctable, nightmarish, selfish, absurd, niggling, errant desire. To function well and kindly I must make work.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?
I work on chalk gessoed marine-ply panels. I will prepare a number of panels over a period of days, which I will then work on over the following few months....

Read interview HERE

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WW Gallery, Venice Biennale collateral exhibition
Afternoon Tea
2011

'Quirky individualism gives the show a freshness – a tender, tentative work by William Stein, called ‘New Friends’ that could be the offspring of Richard Tuttle...'

Catalogue including texts by Cherry Smyth and Helen Sumpter HERE


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Hidde Van Seggelen, London
State of the Newly Incarnate Soul
2010
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Tate Modern, London
No Soul For Sale
2010


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Macintyre Art Advisory, London
Abstract Investigations
2009


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Robilant + Voena, London
Back to the Future: Young Artists Look to Old Masters
2009

William Stein’s work is a pictorial search for a delicate balance between intuition and pre-meditation. His slow, multi-layered paintings explore the possibility of an inner, emotional space; generally small in scale they nonetheless open up expansive land/space-scapes, vistas with impossible geometries and complex architectonics. Their abstract meditative intentionality draws a parallel with votive objects, and early Christian art, where the visual is primarily read for its symbolical rather than naturalistic meaning. Stein’s interest in historical techniques sourced from texts such as the fifteenth century Craftsman’s Handbook by Cennino Cenini further informs his use of hand-made media and pure pigments. His insistence on chalk gesso as a base is specifically inspired by his search for a luminosity and richness of colour intended to convey an emotional depth to his paintings which he feels extends beyond the merely aesthetic. In this ethereal new work he has captured Saint John’s inner tension and dramatic determination with the barest of linear employs, dividing the picture plane in two – symbolic of the temporal and spiritual realms - with a highly charged phthalocyanine turquoise which seems to hover electrically on the surface and beyond.





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Sadler’s Wells, London
Objects in the Forest
2009

From Caragh Thuring's touchingly spare linear reference to place in Dutch painting through to the abstract but spatial and illusory set of paintings by William Stein. From Jill Mason's lucid sideways landscape constructions punctuated with high colour pimples and pinnacles to Ellen MacDonald's cartoon wigwam signs and directions to a something that has already happened, the works are hung in happy relation to each other. Bernhard Martins' fanciful moon leans, in this context alone, almost towards the literal, while Medrie MacPhee's brightly coloured stage has been set out of historical repertoire.
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Studio 1.1, London
William Stein, New Work
2009

There's a powerful discrimination at work in these new paintings of William
Stein's; where another painter, abstract or not, might be concerned with what to
include in a picture, what colours and motifs to combine, Stein's focus can be seen
as trained in the opposite direction: the question for him is far more what to leave
out, or what, once it has been included, to hide. Colours are muted, motifs are few
and simple, repeated from picture to picture. Against areas of darkness or smooth
chalk gesso, 'solid' shapes are blocked out and take part in a geometry that only
sometimes and by accident makes sense. Massing a slow and painterly
architectonics, Stein provides a subtle contemporary take on classical
constructivism.

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