London-based artist Matt Small studied at the University of Westminster and The Royal College of Art, graduating in 2000.
A passionate believer in social inclusion, his portraits of the young, homeless and socially marginalized encourage the viewer to consider those who are often overlooked, challenging prejudices and acknowledging our shared humanity. Bursting with pride and compassion, Small creates energetic and dynamic paintings, injected with colour, power and the spirit of the city.
He paints portraits of anonymous figures, but these evocative impasto pieces are all about their subject. Found objects collected from the streets are his canvas, bringing the physical elements of the city directly into his paintings. Vivid and saturated colours swirl and drip around each face, distorting features just enough to lend interest and project their own identity.
Much like his canvases, his subjects are also found, sometimes in the streets or local parks. They are observed and filmed from a discreet distance, capturing their real identity and character, as opposed to traditional portraits that capture the subject as they would prefer to be perceived.
Small is deeply involved in social schemes intended to support and develop ostracised youth and previous projects include ‘Hope in Life’, a series of weekly workshops where the socially excluded could express themselves through painting and music.
His works have been exhibited worldwide including Lefevre Fine Art, Mayfair, Vroom & Varossieau, Amsterdam, DIE Galerie, Seoul and Marry Karnowsky, Los Angeles. Small has also won and been nominated for numerous art prizes, including the Viliers David Art Prize and the BP Portrait Award.
Banner image source: The Guardian