Simon Stone, Habitat Magazine - January/February 2007

This admired South African artist was born in 1952 in Lady Grey, Cape Province and studied in Italy during the 70's and at the School of Fine Art, UCT. 'Stone is a real painter among so many posers on the art circuit', declares Braam Kruger - prominent SA artist.

Through the 70's and 80's, Stone earned the respect of many fellow artists as the poet of the inner city and the old mine dumps surrounding Johannesburg. He was one of the first painters to celebrate the light and the silence of the city. Stone's works have never been only about the visual world.

'Rather', says Basil Jones, 'they are postcards sent from a parallel universe offering serial updates on his personal metaphysics. The female form is the main carrier of these debates. They offer neither commitment nor judgement, but concern themselves - via a raised eyebrow or a sideways glance - with substance, essence, time, space, causality and identity. Stone speaks oils. His visceral relationship with with paint and the alternating lyricism and edginess of his internal dialogues make him a most articulate and rewarding artist'.

Neil Pendock elaborates on the artist: 'Johannesburg is best captured, for me, by the art of Simon Stone who uses colour as a torch to search for the sympathetic in our "hard-boiled" city. Simon Stone's paintings light up a room, often combining brightness with a cooler palate. Using colour as an emotion and a source of illumination, he juxtaposes the incongruous objects that are the commonplaces of urban life. More recently in his paintings, he has added lyrical views of Karoo landscapes and explored the stars of the night sky. The images are complex, beautiful and enigmatic, with landscapes shot from speeding cars and figures observing across the collage. It's all in the sketchbooks; those self-bound 500-page folios of cartoons, watercolours and doodles he spends hours on every day, a tiny proportion of which end in paintings and mosaics.'

Stone's profusion of public mosaics include the foyer of the SA Broadcasting Corporation, the downtown office of a mining conglomerate, a fountain in the up-market Hyde Park shopping centre, and exterior wall of a Houghton mansion - and of the Everard Read Gallery - Marion Fassler's house and William Kentridge's among many more. The artist says of his mosaics that 'they are more chirpy and decorative than the paintings, the angst is absent'.

This artist's work is provocative, unpretentious and there is an agreed absence of ego in his paintings. 'As if', felt Braam Kruger, 'being there is the only part he plays in the birth of every artwork'.

The artist and his highly acclaimed artist wife, Gionvanna Biallo, now live in Knysna in a home that is a visual feast and a work of art in itself. Trent Read of Knysna Fine ARt handles both Simon Stone's and Gionvanna Biallo's works and is Stone's loyal and supportive friend.

'If one wants to start a South African art collection, the begin with a Simon Stone.' Kruger declares unequivocally and with genuine admiration that Simon Stone is 'the best painter in the country'.

Several collections worldwide and selected corporate collections include: Alexander Forbes, Mobil Oil, Anglo American Collection, Pendock Collection, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South African National Gallery, Gencor, UNISA and the University of the Witwatersrand. Awards: 1986 Merit Art Awards, Volkskas Atelier 1976, Irma Stern Scholarship.

Editor's Note: A Simon Stone painting that sold for R7,000 in 1992, would cost over 10 times that amount today.