ART | Richard Mendtorr


Richard Mendtorr interview by Liz rice McCray

Richard Mendtorr tells truths through: painting, sculpture, and performance art. Medtorr was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico and currently lives and works in Mexico City. Richard Mendtorr defines his artworks as “small lies that contain huge truths” creating self-portraits of his childhood that somewhat terrify us. Many thanks, to Richard for taking the time to answer our questions.

Perhaps you could describe where you are right now.¬† This way everyone reading along can imagine the setting. I’ve been living in Mexico City for almost 2 years now, but most of my life i lived in Tijuana.

You describe your art as “small lies that contain huge truths” will you elaborate? Yes, there’s very realistic and detailed portions within my paintings that are intervened with surreal and ghostly elements, as an example, the painting titled “Villano x Vencer” where the kid is playing a videogame, we see him joyfully reacting when the character from the game comes out of the TV and threatens the fatherly authority figure, the “small lie” portion of the painting is the realistic and coloured elements (the kid and the living room) because even though they are depicted highly detailed, in the end its just painting applied over a surface that gives the illusion of the setting that involves the kid in the living room. The “huge truth” part would be the grey and dreamlike elements that consist of the parent and the shotgun-wielding character because they encompass the sincere thoughts of the child, i like to emphasize that part with the “huge” adjective, because that honest section of the painting (even though bleak and uncomfortable) is the most important factor on the whole composition, it portrays a situation which says a lot about our society’s current state of mind, and expressing that kind of ideas and messages are the main reasons that motivate me to make art. I want to keep on exploring the human mind and soul and try to give a tangible form to their content, make visible that which is invisible.

What mediums do you mainly work with? on the biggest paintings i’ve made i used oil on canvas, with the typical and traditional tools that are brushes, palette and an easel, but i’ve also done smaller paintings with pastels on paper, pastels are not well-known because they are hard to use and very messy, they’re very similar to chalks, the way to apply them is to draw with them and use all the pigmented dust that comes out by rubbing it with my fingertips to fill the drawing with color, since there is no mixing plate in which the colors can be combined, the colors are directly applied to the paper, and while i’m using my fingertips to rub, blend and blur the pigment, it’s almost as if they become the bristles on the paintbrushes. There’s also a lot of residue dust that i have to clear out by blowing on it, but through that particular process i feel there’s a more direct and intimate connection with my artworks because there aren’t any tools in between that distance myself from the painting, it’s also quite difficult and dirty but that’s one of the reasons why i like it.

Kind of cliché artist interview question here, but where do you draw inspiration from? from the world around me, i observe, question and examine myself, the people, demeanors, situations or events, that is why in many of my paintings i portray daily surroundings such as a classroom, school playground, park, church, dining room, living room. As for the paintings where the individual is not seen within a realistic environment, i like making a strong emphasis on human emotions and attitudes in those.

Very last question. Anything else you would like to share with our readers? last words, shout outs, declaration of love or hate. So many things i would like to share but for now, i’ll just state a fact that some people might not be aware of: painting is not art, its a medium to make art, since i was a child, i made many drawings and paintings as commissions by people who saw my ability and draftmanship, so as a way to obtain monetary gain i painted many conventional pictures of still lifes, landscapes and portraits because that’s what the customers wanted, but even though they were satisfied and praised the work, i always thought “these aren’t real art, these are just superficial paintings without an idea or meaning behind them”, they also served as a form of constant practice for me to develop my skill further, but i always felt a little remorse because they didn’t show my honest view of the world, that’s why i didn’t even document those with a camera, they only served a decorative purpose, and it may sound corny but, they were made only by my hands, not by my mind and soul, so with that said, i think i’m trying to encourage to look beyond what our eyes can see and to manifest the resulting musings in a raw and unadulterated form, personally that’s the type of expression i find enticing and worthwhile, the one that penetrates deep.