William Stein / Ben Nicholson: Shore Lines
In the exhibition 'Shore Lines' Frestonian Gallery presents works by two alumni of London’s Slade School of Art: a series of new large and mid-scale paintings by contemporary artist William Stein, in dialogue with paintings, drawings and prints by Stein's long-time inspiration and one of the most significant figures in British Modern art, Ben Nicholson (1894-1982).
The title of the exhibition refers to Benoit Mandelbrot's notion (an expansion on concepts outlined by the mathematician Lewis Fry Richardson) of the ‘shoreline’ (or any 'line') as an example of infinity - the length of which being both infinitely multipliable and infinitely divisible. In both Stein and Nicholson's work we are presented with extraordinary senses of infinity or 'non-space' - expanses seemingly endless and timeless, which do not suggest ending at the paper or canvas' edge. In these indefinite spaces, both artists' sublime and universal geometric forms are left to float, intersect and fire our imagination as we make our own sense of their delicate and mysterious arrangements.
In reaching for this sense of infinity Stein’s works have about them something of the tableau or stage-set. This wider universe implied within a contained environment is populated by objects and motifs that might lead lives well beyond the brief, if static, appearance they make before us. This stage-like element is particularly evident in Stein’s most recently completed canvases, the pale-hued and beautifully hallucinatory 8000 Metres Down and Remembering Something Forgotten.
A crucially unknowable aspect of Stein’s work is one of scale and context, and resonates with the Nicholson’s featured in the accompanying study exhibition in the gallery’s second space. The lines of Nicholson’s extraordinary Black and White Composition (1933) describe only a sense of form and movement in space, detached entirely from the constraints of human hierarchies, of large & small / minute and monumental. The forms that inhabit and drift across Stein’s paintings, which could at once be children’s playing blocks or heavenly structures, describe scenes either intimate or infinite.
Born in Bristol in 1977, William Stein lives and works in London. After completing his MA at the Slade School of Art, London, he was made an Honorary Research Associate in Painting. He has exhibited widely both in the UK and abroad, most recently with David Zwirner (New York).