Rick Gradone is a queer, 52-year-old painter working in Oakland, CA. Functioning at the intersection of religion and geology, his work imagines a new, inclusive, futuristic religion based on a unified view of the earth. By using common rocks from places all over the world as the symbols of this religion, he creates a singular iconography based on the earth in its most stable form. With thousands to millions of years in the making, rocks tell the history of the earth in a snapshot of form in the present. As a focus of meditation, they reveal our place in time.
Structured as studies for shrines and monuments, his rock paintings imagine spaces of worship and contemplation for all beings and suggest that revelation about this relationship has the power to create a new human responsibility to each other and to the planet.
The earth contains immense power that dwarfs our awe- inspiring hubris. Even a notion of “protecting” or “preserving” the world reveals our flawed perspective. Humanity will expire long before the earth ceases to exist.
Rocks represent the earth in its most stable state, but their existence in time means they will eventually be gone. With millions of years carved into their surfaces, rocks tell the earth’s history of connections and dead ends in a snapshot of form in the present.
The ancient religions formed to connect with the earth’s power. My latest works are portraits of rocks envisioned as studies for shrines and monuments offering a separate liminal zone in which to contemplate larger realities and truths. The inclusion of pedestals and structures points to the human architecture that builds these spaces and creates their meanings.
Rendered using simplified lines and forms, this work attempts perfection, but secedes to the planet’s higher power that diminishes all human invention. The imperfection of the work drives me the way the earth redefines the lines of its shores with every wave.