Bringing the city into his work by painting on materials he has found on the streets of London, Small's work featuring portraits of anonymous subjects gives a face to the city's young and marginalised people.

Matt Small Matt Small

Concerned with how the institutional British social system leaves no room for those on the periphery of society, Small's portraits reminds viewers of the importance of humanity. It comes at no surprise that his raw works have won the Viliers David Art Prize and been nominated for the BP Portrait Award.

His haunting works on metal pull the invisible from the city crowds. In a world obsessed with likes and followers on social media, Small's rough-cut and ragged works offer something real. In art history, portraiture has long been associated with the rich or famous, those who can afford to be painted and those who people want to look at. Instead, Small's oeuvre shakes up history by offering diverse subjects.

Small finds his sitters by taking to the streets of London with a video camera, to capture his anonymous sitters in their world. In the same place he finds his subjects, Small also finds the materials for his work which includes anything found on the street, from fridges and other household appliances to wrecked cars.

Continuing his theme of reusing materials from the city, Small often works with paint that has been thrown away by others, meaning his works are in variety of mediums including household paint and oils. Like his subjects, the physical elements of his works are a product of the urban environment, consisting of pieces that society has disregarded.

Matt Small, Portrait of Kofi and Oswald, mixed media on 1980 BMW car bonnet, 2017, signed on the reverse and dated in white paint, 140cm x 160cm Matt Small, Portrait of Kofi and Oswald, mixed media on 1980 BMW car bonnet, 2017, signed on the reverse and dated in white paint, 140cm x 160cm

This week, a work by Matt Small will feature in Lots Road's auction on 30th April, 2017. Entitled Portrait of Kofi and Oswald, the piece, which was executed this year, has been created on a 1980 BMW car bonnet. Check out the full catalogue here.

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