home drawings prints mixed mediaoutside work performancessuits writingsresume/cv

Suits Richard Metz



The Suits

The Suits Men's suits are both a seductive and repellent material to me. The more I work with them, the more I appreciate the beauty of the lines, and the subtle elegance of their colors. Mostly though, I am working with the notion of the suits as a symbol of hierarchy and male privilege. On one level, the characters that grace the backs of these suits are kind of demons bent on leveling society and unleashing the repressed energy and humanity that the corporate world denies. On another level, these characters are corporate alter egos and the inner children of executives. By becoming a masquerade-like costume, the characters on the backs of the suits reveal an inner nature of men, be it angry, child-like ,confused, unmasculine, or depressed.
I want to suggest that which lies buried in the male stereotypes of our culture: the  naked and sexual , the raw ferocious anger, the loneliness and alienation, and the emptiness which spawns endless greed. The images of the suits are based on men, both specifically and in general. In simplified terms the Sharkman refers to men who are cunning, and hungry, without regard to who they hurt. Protestman overfills his life with the fire of angry rebellion. The Hindu god Ganeesh looking at his head which his father cut off is a meditation on the loss of self identity. Big Ego Head is a study of men who regard themselves with an exaggerated sense of importance.
My recent work consists of a group of paintings on men's suits. I have hung them from ceilings with arms out, to suggest a sort of dance macabre of different male creatures.  Some characters are based on myths of different cultures, others are created from my own observation and imagination. What they share in common is a fusion and distortion of animal and human forms. Men's suits are also a kind of carnivalesque dress-up game in themselves. They both reveal and conceal the adult male, with responsibilities and an insecure ego to defend. To look at these suits with these strange characters on their backs could be how I imagined them as a child; full of my father's presence and authority. This series of fantasy creatures blends childhood dreams and the adult mutations that grew from them. I have hung these works filled out with both space and a symbolic object. An unexpected center or addition to the piece hangs inside the suit. The backs are painted like executive biker jackets. The insides reveal something less protected.


Much of my recent work has focused on the nature of clothing, its signification in contemporary society, and how I can suggest inner spirits and creatures that might be subversive and humorous. I am currently working on both men's dark suits and women's black dresses.
Formal attire, both men's and women's, implies a class based facade.To dress up can be a way to gain access for the middle and lower classes, to high society. This aristocracy has always meant financial and social dominance in our society. One must dress to play the part.
While men's black suits exude power, death, and danger, women's black dresses can connote privileged sexuality,submission, as well as domination and intrigue. The clothes mask the individuals inside, giving the viewer the impression of a stylish uniform.

The three images presented here are part of a larger series of stereotypes and rebellions. The Contemporary Athena  represents a kind of mythical female power, found both in the warrior Greek goddess and the Hindu goddesses. The idea here is that within the repressed black dress lies a great and dangerous energy. The second images is the Witches. This image has to do the slaughter of a hundred thousand women in Europe in the middle ages for having knowledge of natures healing plants. The suppression of knowledge and women's voice continue today.The third image is the Screaming. I think the black dress can be a kind of cage, repressing feelings, presenting a single sexualized personality. The screaming image is the other side of the stereotype; angry and speaking out.

Richard Metz

entire site contents copyright 2020 R. Metz