I met with Landon Metz in his plant-filled studio. We sat on cinderblocks and his studiomate made me a salad. He goes there every day, working endlessly on the delicate process he uses to create his paintings. Over the past couple months, he has been preparing for a solo show this summer at Brand New Gallery in Milan, and he will be taking in a group show curated by Diego Cortez as part of the Venice Biennale.
Explain how you make the compositions in this new body of work?
The compositions are meant to be a reflection of the materiality of the work, a residue of process and natural phenomena that I have learned to work with and embrace. Using a firm brush, I press into the fibers of the canvas, creating valleys for the dyes to fill; the resulting marks are actually made with the canvas rather than the dye itself. The color fields are produced by allowing pools of dye to soak into the canvas over a period of days. As they dry, the dyes merge with the surface of the material, rather than resting on top of it. I’m treating color as material process, using tonal values to give compositional weight to specific forms, which inherently acknowledge and echo one another as well as the support of the painting itself. This active engagement with surface and support is about asserting a sense of objecthood, so the works lay somewhere between painting and sculpture.
When you apply the dyes, the work isn't finished. There is this drying process that affects the work and you don't have any control over. How does the element of chance affect your work?
The dyes change quite a bit during the days they take to dry, and I consider this to be a time-based gesture. Through observation, I’ve gradually learned how to anticipate and even exaggerate this process, using gravity and subtle shifts in the resting position of the work to affect the forms. My intentions are mediated by the natural properties of the mediums and the surrounding environment, but over time, I’ve learned how to utilize those inherent tendencies towards deliberate ends.
Do you believe making accessible work is important? Your work bridges this gap between highly conceptual painting practice while making compositions that are easy to enjoy.
I think it’s very important--particularly in the current climate, which so often seems to reward inaccessibility in works of art--to reinforce the idea that intellectual rigor needn’t preclude visual pleasure. Both elements are crucial in making enduring, vital works of art. While my decisions are guided by a conceptual framework, I’m not intentionally disenfranchising the viewer, but rather providing a point of entry to the work’s theoretical underpinnings. Central to my practice is the idea that my formal decisions--medium, palette, scale, composition, etc.--don’t just point towards these underlying concepts, they actively embody them. So while it’s important to me that the work provides a rich visual experience, it’s not simply about achieving beautiful results: it’s about using the work’s formal qualities as a vehicle for advancing the ideas that inform them.
What's on your stereo right now?
9:00 - Philip Glass
12:00 - Suicide
3:00 - Gucci Mane
6:00 - Severed Heads
9:00 - The-Dream
12:00 - Erik Satie