My name’s Matt Small, he says…No, no street name, I’m not a street artist,calling me Matty Small is about the closest you’ll get to a street name for me. While his work – essentially portraiture – is a million miles away from the ubiquitous world of urban art, it does take it’s cue from the street. I don’t know the people I paint, he explains, I take their pictures and work from there…it’s quite impressionistic in that way. Not only are the people found, but the materials he paints on are too – car bonnets…bits of wood…the remnant of a printing machine – all get redefined by Matts gaze. Somehow these materials with their varying sizes and surfaces become transformed and almost secondary to the visual impact of the portrait. You kind of have to walk around a bit and really look at the pieces – eventually the different elements give themselves up, he says.
Like classic portraiture, these studies are to be lived with; gaining resonance through familiarity and time. As a contemporary body of work, they also relate to very modern issues; The work looks at young people, people who ordinarily get dismissed in society – often seen as threatening…a lot of negativity gets projected onto them…This show is a response to that…It’s called Youngstarrs. In a way, the blasts of colour ask us to look beyond these negative projections.
It’s stylish and in many ways quite cool and yet has a truly powerful emotional charge; I wanted to document my own findings. As if I hadn’t taken up enough of his time, I ask Matt if I could take his picture. Why not, he replies, I can’t really say no since so much of my work is based on taking pictures of other people.
author: Jason Jules @ Garmsville