Rock and stone are associated with cosmic and ancient mystery, power, and spirit:
Rock and stone (pieces of rock) are tacitly regarded as eternal substances imbued with indestructible integrity.
“The rock, when you broke it open, was the same color all the way through. There are not that many things that are the same color all the way through. And that was a color integral to the form and integral to the substance. And that fascinated me; something that you could not separate. Not like cloth—dye. Not like the one color that is inside of another color, or, the outside of a flower or the inside of another color, et cetera.”
Regarding his late-1940’s rock paintings,
For Brice, though, rock/stone was another paradox. Its derivation comes from the beginning of the universe and time, and so seems permanent. Yet, his view included the acknowledgment of “the test of time”. In his travels to Greece he understood stone’s mutability, its capacity to crumble into chunks, shards, and, ultimately, dust. He reflected that:
“Well the Acropolis then—now they started piecing it together—but it was literally in pieces. Greece, all of Greece, is at your feet. And you pick up a little fragment and you don’t know, is that a stone, is that a piece of something, does that have a heart, an intelligence found in it, a longstanding, distant intelligence. That whole idea about time, if a rock takes so long to turn its form, a flower so quickly, its ephemeral life. That sense of our own mortality. That seems to be some consciousness that I have always had, some idea of everything on the move, beginnings, endings, continuations.”
Williambrice.org/Library/Videos/ Brice “Walkthrough”
Brice returned repeatedly to the theme of rock/stone. It first appears in his early rocky landscapes and continue as thematic returns through to his still-life paintings of arrangements of stone on a ledge, to his “Greek period” evocations of stone totems and classical torsos, and to his frieze-like pictograms declaring sexuality as the life-force that it is rock and stone. Frequently, he even mixes sand into his ground on canvases or paints on emery cloth directly—as a substance pregnant with a simultaneity of present-ness and past-ness, and possibly with the implications of the ‘wearing down’ and rounding of one’s hard intentions and beliefs over time. His appears not to be a literal “reading” of stone, but rather an allegorical understanding, a habit of looking—and of a creative response to looking.