"People often ask, why don't I paint a self-portrait? In fact, all my works are self-portraits. You are constantly painting shades of yourself." 

"Individuals truly do shape the world. Not committees, not groups, not faceless corporations, but individuals who dare to realize their higher nature in a world full of obedience and conformity." 

"Crass business has ruined the soul of art for far too long and turned it into products of consumption, not appreciation! It is time for art to reclaim its rightful place in the world; with the people, for the people!" 

In his own words:

"Chasing money and chasing greatness are two very different things." 

"Control is NOT more important than progress. Nor should it ever be." 

"Creating something original takes a lifetime of perseverance and absorption. When one begins they naturally imitate what came before them. When one comes into their own they develop their own sensibility and that is where true originality lies." 

"Catch the soul of what you are after, and I assure you, the art will be there." 

Matthew Montero

"I think the strongest questions one can ask another are, "What did you come here for?" and  "What are you here to do?!" 




Born Matthew John Montero in Covington, Louisiana, on June 22, 1988, he was deeply immersed in art from an early age. His father Lloyd Montero Jr. was a self-made entrepreneur and lifelong passionate art collector and his mother Martha was naturally gifted in painting and drawing. Matthew did not formally take up painting until 2007, where the expression of the human figure played a major role. Even among these early works, Montero's instinct for emotional depth and strength of composition was evident. 


Incredibly, he has always used his bare hands to create. This unique mastery of using his fingers like brushes gives his portraits a compelling and completely original intensity, with no brush marks or trace elements. Montero explains, "I try and capture many things in a portrait. I might paint them rougher or finer depending on the subject. Everything I do in a portrait is deliberate; the pose, the expression, the color choice, the attitude, it is a remaking of that person." 


The Process

Montero painting in his studio. © The ICONS Museum

Montero's studio floor. © The ICONS Museum

Montero's portraits are done entirely freehanded; meaning there is no pasted or projected tracing of an image onto the canvas. "I feel a painter has to earn his subject. If I projected or traced an image, it would come too easy and no value comes from something so easily had. A painter must go straight onto the canvas with the paint and see what they are made of."





It was during his freshman year of college that Montero developed the technique of using solely his bare-hands to create: "I remember instinctively it just came more natural than a brush. I felt more directly connected to what I was painting. Many people have suggested I should use gloves because of the harsh chemicals in house paint, but I cannot. I have to feel the canvas, and feel the subject."

Montero in Montmartre, Paris. 2010

During college, he traveled to France, Spain, and Africa soaking in the history and artistic treasures. Upon graduating from University, he promptly moved to New York City to dedicate his life to art and painting. He took a position at Scully & Scully on Park Ave to afford rent and began painting out of a studio loft in the South Bronx. After an unexpected family tragedy, he moved back to Louisiana, and within 4 years established ICONS as the world's only art museum dedicated to the appreciation of the greatest modern cultural icons.


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