24 March 2021

In Conversation: Landon Metz

Edition 003

Image by Noah Emrich

EDITION 003 was designed in conversation with New York based artist Landon Metz over the last year and a half. Together, we explored the art of dress as it relates to the dynamic demands of life today, thinking through notions of comfort, function, expression and intuition to better understand the ways a piece of clothing affects our state of being.

(Stòffa) I am trying to think back to the time when we first started discussing making something together. I feel like it was the time when you were introducing a range of new colors into your work. Do you remember that?

(Landon Metz) That sounds like almost two years ago. Two years ago was a weird time. My wife was pregnant and my son Éze was coming. It’s hard for me to remember my state of mind exactly as so much was changing for me then. I definitely have been evolving towards this sense of freedom and moving away from rigidity as much as possible—being flexible, open minded, and more understanding. It certainly extended into my work during that time. I guess it has to do with getting older, having more experience, and certainly with becoming a dad. You start to think about who you want to be for that person and what unconditional love truly means. Being very curious about who this person is and who they will become. It is meeting life with an open heart and open arms, filled with curiosity. The change that has reflected onto my work is this kind of nonchalance to try new things and be open, you know. Obviously I have my own language and so as long as a new idea fits into that vernacular I am now open to try it out, explore it and see where it takes me. Before I was always challenging the traditional definitions of painting and how it is interpreted. And now, as a result of this new sense freedom, a lot of my work has now become less formal and a more philosophical exploration.

Landon Metz, Euphoria, exhibition view, von Bartha, Basel, 2021

That sense of freedom is beautiful. When we were starting and working on our first series of communication about the process and origins of our work—around 2014—I remember that same feeling of freedom. I actually remember sensing it when we first encountered your work with the series titled Michael Jackson Penthouse.

Oh man. The story behind that series is real and still vividly entrenched in my memory. It was about twelve years ago when I first moved to New York. We were young and everywhere then. I was with some friends and remember being invited to a house party somewhere here in Soho. We took the elevator and pressed the wrong button so the doors opened into someone’s private dinner. Then someone quickly pushed another and we landed in the penthouse of the building in a completely empty space that was full of Michael Jackson portraits—the same portrait just all over the space and all around. We just hung out in this loft for an hour. That episode really was the beginning of when I started thinking about seriality, repetition, and what it means to make a painting—this idea of a master and then replicating it. The title of the series came out of that experience. It was my first show in this tiny house up in Hudson, NY and it was a lot of fun. We did it in the house that accompanied the gallery instead of the gallery itself, and some of my friends who came to see the work—we all stayed in the house where the art was hung. It was a great experience.

Landon Metz, Michael Jackson Penthouse

Image by Clément Pascal

Another topic we’ve lingered on for quite awhile is this idea of dress. How the design of a certain item can affect our state of being. And how we hope to alter, influence, or amplify our mood through our choice of dress. I remember this essay I was reading at the time about the design of a cowl for monks. “It is a large cloak with long sleeves and a hooded neck hole. It’s a contemplative garment and meant to be impractical—you can’t run in it for instance. It slows you down and you can’t do much in the way of works as a result of the long sleeves. Because you can’t move quickly it calls forth a sort of gravitas by imposing a sense of gravity on the wearer.”

Yeah. I totally loved the ideation behind the design of those cowls. The idea of a style of clothing attached to a way of life. The references we always came back to was that of Constantin Brancusi in his various painting smocks and overalls.

"Cistercian monk reading in Leicestershire, England, c. 1930. Photographer unknown."

Images by Noah Emrich (left) and Clément Pascal (right)

There was this double breasted version that was almost like a mechanics jacket, which was sometimes worn with pants in a similar fabric, and then those unique overalls that almost looked liked robes. You also often mentioned this idea freedom through things that feel more generous and loose.

Yeah, I had generally been feeling an urge to go toward that for awhile. With this the aim was to start right from the beginning and try to nail down a relaxed and comfortable sensation—being able to move in my clothes more freely, not ever feeling that the clothes were coming in the way of me living my life.

Yeah, I think when we finally decided that we would work on making a garment the very first discussion was this idea of trying to unburden ourselves from any preconceived definitions and features that might be attached to a design—whether it be tailoring, workwear, shirting, or something else.

On that note, I wonder why did you begin wearing bespoke suits?

It’s not something that I thought about all that much. They just felt appropriate at a time in my life. There was a deep connection to craftsmanship and I liked the fact that they were truly made for my body. They exist outside of fashion and have that inherent timeless quality to them. Hopefully, one day I will hand my suits down to my son. Like the motorcycle jacket that I have from my father that I truly cherish. There is this inter-generational aspect to it that I love and found very meaningful.

Also, since they are made for me, they instantly felt like a personal uniform—something familiar that is always there for me, day in and day out…however, there are moments in the studio when I need something that allows for a little more movement and durability. The materials need to be something that can touch the floor, won’t rip as easily and can stand up to a little more stress.

Looking back to our discussions how do you think about your relationship to clothing now?

My relationship to clothing has changed a lot actually. Right now I just want things that I can wear all the time and just destroy. I am sure that the effect COVID is having on our lives has a lot to do with it, but also feel like we were already talking about it before. There was more separation of dress in my life before. I would wear a suit in the morning and head to the studio and change into clothes that I painted in. But when we talked, I was already trying to find a way to break out of that. I am also enjoying wearing some of my really old clothes and hand me downs which are almost on their last legs. There is something very comforting about those, especially now. I feel less of a need to be precious about my clothes. And with what we are developing, it is nice to have something that lives between both worlds, something that I can wear to many different settings. Keep it on in the studio and live my life, get dirty and over time they turn into something even more beautiful.

I think what we have created here is a product of these deliberate choices. Moving in the jacket feels harmonious with your meticulous yet meditative process of creating your work. Thank you for going on this journey with us.

Shop EDITION 003, available online and in our showroom until May 15, 2021.