Dustin Metz

The Vernal Mystics

Works on View: Sept. 1st – 30th 2011
Artist’s Reception: Sunday Sept. 11th 2011, 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

This September, Pagus welcomes Dustin Metz in his first solo show for an exhibition of his recent work titled The Vernal Mystics.

In The Vernal Mystics Metz pushes against the medium of painting while remaining true to its integral nature. In Pyre Painting the wooden support is exposed at the edges while a pair of black jeans is affixed to the canvas, hanging the would-be figure by the skin of his feet. Hot red flowers painted below, with petals like flames, hint at the figure’s demise.

Other works like Painter En Plein Air and Studio Eyes in the Forest find the artist searching through tight jungle-brush. Memorials is comprised of two paintings hung with hinges to form an adjustable diptych, performs a double-duty. When opened perpendicularly these paintings become mirror images, reflecting absent flowers; when laid flat they stare out together like eyeballs. Metz weaves a loose narrative through the show with repeating images of flowers, foliage, clothing, the studio, and the artist himself. The show’s title, The Vernal Mystics, nods to this story, suggesting new eyes opening to something ancient and unknown.

Metz is working towards receiving an MFA from the Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University in 2012. This past summer he completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and was selected for the annual group show at VOX Populi in Philadelphia. Metz received his BFA in Painting & Drawing from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in 2006.  His practice extends into teaching, curatorial work, and writing.

The following writing accompanies the show:

“Yes! Let it breathe!” I said to the painting, or rather it said to me. The painting then went on about this Jorge Luis Borges story about an old man who travels alone to an island to create another man from his dreams. The man wants to literally dream another man into existence. That night he enters an abandoned temple, falls asleep, and gets right to work. In his dreams he sees crowds of people. In these crowds is the man he will bring from his dream into the world he awakes every morning to. He searches many nights in his dreams for this person, but every time he attempts to bring that person from his slumber he just disintegrates and is never realized in waking life. After many failed nights the old man decides to take a break for some time. When he gets back to the task at hand he begins small- first he dreams of atoms, then of cells. After the cells he starts to dream up organs, one at a time, then a circulatory system, then a nervous system, slowly building a man. The process takes many nights but isn’t complete until the dreaming man asks assistance from the god of Fire to help bring his creation to life (it had been Fire’s temple the old man inhabited all this time). Fire agrees to make the new man seem as real as any other man to all of creation, except fire. Finally in the dreaming man’s dream the dreamt man awakes. Over the next two years the dreaming man slowly accustoms his creation to reality by taking the dreamt man outside of the dreams for brief periods of time at night. It is then the old man decides it is time to let the dreamt man out into the world for good and have him go off on his own. Before he does, he erases the dreamt man’s memory of his creation, so that he will believe, like the rest of the world, that he is a real man. The old man is filled with joy and contentment. Some time passes. The old man hears from the local natives of the island that there is a magical man in the North within the sacred ruins of the god of Fire who can walk on flames and not be hurt. Upon hearing this, the man fears that his creation will figure out that he is in fact not real. He goes in search of the dreamt man to protect him from what would be a horrifying realization. As he arrives at the ruins, his search is interrupted by an accumulation of signs, foretold many years ago, of a fire that would destroy the sacred ruins of the god of Fire. The old man at first thinks to seek refuge in the water, but decides that death would be fitting to him at this point. He walks into the flaming ruins. To his astonishment and ultimate fear he realizes the flames around him are not hurting him at all. He now sees that he too must be the dream of another man.

– Dustin Metz