With ethereal spaces lacking measurement between light and horizon or the height between surface and atmosphere the use of a figure’s line becomes the spine that upholds our suspension of disbelief. menton3 blurs distance by making darkness translucent. Like the illumination of a storm cloud the extent of the storm is seen but its well of torment cannot be fathomed. The line in his paintings is the form extended in solitude or confined within the vessel of a circle. It is liberation and confinement.
menton3 has displayed work at La Luz de Jesus, Strychnin Gallery, and will be showcasing a new collection at the dual exhibition, ‘The Kindly Ones’, with David Stoupakis July 11th at Last Rites Gallery in New York City.
Works in menton3’s portfolio that includes cardinal directions and landmasses such as in Bifurcation, still transcends the grasp of the elements and the directions by opposing the central figures and focusing on the wingspan of the raven as the horizon, as opposed to the distant mountains. Within this same oil painting, contrasting personifications of light and dark uphold an emblem of death and rebirth represented by the dragon Ouroboros swallowing its own tail and the vulture, a bird that also consumes death.
Themes like Time are explored in paintings such as Rebis, depicting the tree of life whose roots lead up to the form of a man, who separated by time, transcends by the wings of a raven, above which emerges a woman who faces her impending reincarnation. Amongst the symbolism in his works are threads of mythology interwoven in the narratives, as in Meridiana of Pope Sylvester that depicts the female demon Meridiana whom Pope Sylvester II, according to legend made a pact with in order to gain fortune. Memento Mori (remember death) is depicted in a series of paintings, two of which are different skulls, one crowned by a wintered tree and the other by the outline of a cathedral. This same cathedral is in the background of the work Apostle 3 of 12, where a saturnal man creeps before the outline of a cathedral illuminated by a fiery ground and an ashy sky. Between the historical message of memento mori and the presence of religion, which concerns itself in the maters of the afterlife, the painting shows how the fear of death can be used to control the will of people.
The themes of birth, death, and rebirth naturally conjure the spirit of alchemy, which menton3 paints in works such as Athanor, which is a self-feeding furnace, allowing it to provide long slow-burning heat. In Menton3’s depiction, a human form is emerging from the Athanor. As with most instruments in alchemy, the purpose not only has its application in the physical world but also in our mental conception. The athanor is a slow-burning furnace that represents the human body. You might have heard that our bodies are temples housing the spirit of God, in a similar sense the body is also a vessel, a machine, a tabernacle to perform alchemical magic. The mystery of magic is not if you can cast spells to perform supernatural acts outside of yourself, but if you can unlock the mysteries of understanding the intricate functions of your biological and mental bodies, as it’s shown in the painting Pearl, which how I interpret it for the sake of this article, that a clam can generate a pearl from sand, we too can use our bodies to take base elements and produce precious jewels.
Menton J. Matthews, also known as menton3, executes these alchemical renderings through traditional oil paintings and ghostly digital speed paintings. He has also done considerable work for comic books including, Monocyte and Silent Hill, and is the co-creator and artist for the comics Transfusion and The Nosferatu Wars. He is a writer, painter, illustrator, musician, producer, and podcast host—and I would add philosopher, alchemist, and symbolist. He has collaborated with David Stoupakis and Damien Echols for the website Sigil Saturday, which you can purchase their works online. Menton also co-hosts Transgression podcast along with David Stoupakis, where they discuss the process of their and other artists’ craft. This is a great podcast to become familiar not only with the craft of various artists, but also to get exposed to new artists. One of the best ways to get to know an artist and understand their art is not through articles such as this, but by having a casual conversation with them, which Transgression provides that platform.
menton3 has also collaborated with Ben Templesmith, Kasra Ghanbari, and Nick Idell to create 44Flood, which produces projects collaborated by these four artists, and others, that includes art and prose that exploring the dyadic constitution of human nature. One such projects is TOME, which is “an annual anthology in an oversized format showcasing a diverse set of world-class artists as they explore a single theme using the comic book, painting, and music mediums.” TOME 1, EXPLICITUS EST LIBER 1 is themed, Vampirism. Over fifty artists, including illustrators, painters, writers, and musicians, contributed to the volume that explored the essence of the vampirism, which is “the misuse of power and the objectification and exploitation of others.” The second volume, EXPLICITUS EST LIBER 2, will explore the theme, Melancholia.