British artist Justin Bateman has been active since 2001, but it was the 2019 pieces he created below (“Stona Lisa,” “Pebble Picasso”) that went viral.
In early 2020, Bateman took what was supposed to be a one-week vacation to Thailand. The global lockdown struck, and the artist found himself confined to the region, where he had plenty of time – and rocks – to create more work:
“I have been exploring land art for many years, inspired by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and the spiritual practices of Tibetan Monks. The monks will spend many hours creating sand mandalas, only to blow them away once complete. Impermanence is an important feature of my work; how long does an artwork need to exist in order for it to have value? Rejecting the materials of ‘high art’ such as bronze and oils (the stuff of ‘Renaissance God’s) and returning to a simplicity more akin to our cave-dwelling ancestors. You might say pebbles are my pixels.
“In a world with a relentless appetite for more, I prefer to use less; the record of my work is only a digital footprint as I leave no physical trace of my presence in the environment. My work explores themes of people, place and time, order and chaos…. ‘The entropy of life’.”