Outside Work RichardMetz
Painted tree spirits Richard Metz 2010
For the past three years I have been wandering through the woods of southeastern Montgomery County, painting strange faces and figures on groups of trees in secluded areas. My latest work are in Abington, PA., and in Port Angeles , Washington. I received a grants to be part of their Sculpture Parks. These outdoor paintings are kind of neo-primitive, and belong in a nature setting, not a gallery. They are meant to hover in between the genres of fine art, children’s illustration, and a kind of art brut graffiti.
While I have in the past been influenced by tribal works and years of portrait painting, the faces and creatures that I have created, (see images), are inspired by the areas they inhabit. They are meant to be wondrous, spiritual, humorous, playful, and aesthetically enjoyable art that works within and depends upon the context of a wooded area. The characters are created as nature spirits. In the tradition of Native American masks and sculptures, these works are my own representations, some based on the leaf shapes of the area, of imaginary creatures that might live in the woods. These works also have a history in the imagery of the Green Man, a Western European deity that symbolizes nature spirits and is found carved into many English cathedrals.
To combine my environmentalism and interest in sustainability with my artistic practice is part of my learning process. These works, created with natural, non-toxic pigments and eggs, will not harm the woods they are in. These painted trees express my deep connection and admiration for our natural world. They encourage the viewer to walk in and appreciate the natural environment. They are meant to be part of nature, not separate.
One issue in artistic production has been a battle against nature, in terms of trying to preserve the work for eternity. I have vowed to ‘let nature win’. My tree paintings, made with eggs and pigments, decay and decompose in the space of 6-12 months. The use of the eggs as a binder is strong enough to preserve the work for several months, but then begins to gradually fade away, and finally deteriorates altogether. The works painted in May 2010 would not be visible in May 2011. They will not be part of our societies’ accumulation of stuff.
The work is in this way, anti-materialist and anti-consumerist, and attempts to also function as a critique of art as commodity. These works are not possible to own. They will disappear in a year and there will only be photographic documentation of the works and the installation and memory
Richard Metz 2010
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