Tom Montan, painting the homeless

My current work is a series of portraits (48″ x 48″ oil on wood panels) that focuses on the growing homeless population in America and in my hometown, which I am juxtaposing against backdrops of ornate wallpaper designs. The goal of these large realist portraits is to highlight a universal struggle for survival. This colorful group that exists on the fringes of society gives me inspriration in the way they address adversity and how their characters often shine in spite of circumstance. A familiar sight on the street corners of almost every American city, this growing population is overlooked and disappears from view, much like the wallpaper in many homes..

I am treating my recent series of portraits in a stark manner, simplifying and amplifying emotions when possible. These individual characters are dealt with void of environment to remove the viewer from a specific time to witness these people on their own terms and placing them within the uniquely foriegn backdrops of ornate wallpapers. My hope is that this focus will pull this disenfranchised group back into the context of home and highlight the place of home, which these people are without. Creating art from this perspective is intended to put these individuals in a place of honor and focus.

The larger idea of these paintings is about being in particularly uncomfortable states of place and time, reflecting a contrast with the ornate. I am attempting to pull the deeper emotional and dysfunctional ways in which we as a society isolate and minimize people we can’t relate to or understand. These are questions that are meant to provoke viewers of these portraits largess (48’x48″) and contrasting images.
Tom Montan
Aug 22, 2011

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