Grace Metzler: Visual Essay

by Emilie Stark-Menneg

With every brushstroke Grace Metzler investigates how humans behave, congregate, love and chill together.

Grace Metzler, “Bathers“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016, 11”x14”
Grace Metzler, “Milk House“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017, 86″x70”

She often depicts people interacting at what may appear to be a tailgate hootenanny turned mythic ceremony. Supernatural auroras emanate from her work.

Grace Metzler, “Mitts“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017, 48″x36”

In Metzler’s “Mitts”, a pair of ubiquitous oven mitts seem to have forgone their domestic duties to lend magical powers to their wearer, whose green skin and camouflage coat suggest she has become a forest.

Grace Metzler, “Make-Out Hole + Runners“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016, 84″x103”

Metzler’s “Make-out Hole + Runners”, depicts men jogging through a sparsely-wooded lot. Two identical bonfires rage like burning eyes. The runners appear to be enacting a ritual that might either conjure the sublime or wake the dead. In the lower right corner, a man and a naked woman make-out, which seems to suggest a fairytale or midnight kiss. But elsewhere in the painting, a figure appears to be climbing in or out of a grave. The tension between good and evil, and the magical code that sends us in either direction, lends great poise to Grace’s work, which teeters on the edge of a powerful and yet unpredictable sorcery.

Grace Metzler, “Laundry Day“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017, 67″x70”

In one of her most recent works, “Laundry Day”, a woman folds laundry while presumably her husband, who has just returned home, appears in the doorway, mysteriously pointing his hand upward. One wall of the living room is partially covered in depictions of horses and riders, recalling ancient pictographs. The cowboys adorning the wall might represent an accumulation of days, dreams and desires. Perhaps, for this couple, painting has the power to pattern the future, to in effect, bring home the steak dinner, which sits on a tray in the middle of the room. Metzler’s paintings seem to oscillate between portrayals of ordinary gatherings and magic rituals. She simultaneously offers the viewer a snapshot of the everyday and an epic fairytale. That both the TV dinner tray-table and the drying rack are collapsible and that the woman is folding laundry, suggests that the universe can be one thing, expansive and visible, or invisible,

Grace Metzler, “Dancers“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017, 12″x16”

mysterious and tucked-away.

Grace Metzler, “Swinger“, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017, 56″x72”
Grace Metzler, “Games On”, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016, 68”x72

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