For Los Angeles based painter Dustin Metz, fruit is an apt subject to explore existential drama. Fruit is common and familiar yet enigmatic and transcendent: living flesh - heavy and expectant. Elaborating these metaphysical associations, Metz depicts fruits at moments of profound spiritual transformation. Lemons sliced in half emerge from black, mounded voids, some with their peels splayed around them like skinned martyrs. These citrus saints are illuminated by the inner light of the sacred, or else appear backlit as if eclipsing the sun.
Seeking the divine in his subject allows Metz to communicate the individuality - the beingness - of each fruit as a unique instance of spiritual potential. How might the fruit picture itself while contemplating its mortality? What would the moment of death feel like versus how it might look on the outside for a fruit? This almost absurd premise is tempered by Metz’s commitment and sincerity as a painter. Implicit within the spiritual nature of these images is the artist’s own relationship to painting as a quiet, daily discipline of transcendence. This devotion results in works possessed of an exacting and deliberate economy of image. The pictures are lean, allowing each element of their construction to be articulated to fullest effect. The scrupulous execution of deeply-considered formal decisions evince an almost mystical regard for painting’s ability to collapse time, space, touch and meaning through a nexus of brushwork, palette, texture, and composition. Feelings of religiosity and awe have been explored since painting began. By applying these feelings to fruit and evoking sentience within non-human entities, Metz deepens his search for an expanded view of empathy through painting.