January 30, 2019 1:02 pm
Updated: January 30, 2019 10:04 pm

Internationally acclaimed artist’s collection ‘Home on the Streets’ makes Toronto debut

WATCH ABOVE: As a painter Marco Sassone's influences trace back to his studies at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy where he was raised. Eventually Sassone moved to San Francisco and in the early '90s dedicated his life to homelessness. He learned about each individual he painted and what led them to the streets. Susan Hay has the story.

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Watching Marco Sassone paint, truly makes you appreciate art and life.

As a painter, Sassone’s influences trace back to his studies at the Academy of Fine Art in Florence Italy, where he was raised. More than 40 years later, Sassone’s known as an internationally acclaimed artist, was granted the Order of Italy, and became an Italian Knight.

Now, Sassone reflects on his work and speaks openly about homelessness – an issue so deeply personal to him.

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“I became one of them,” Sassone said. “It’s like in a movie when the principal actor that has to feel the part and he becomes the part. I had become the part. I think it’s a little bit the story of my life. I’ve been drawn to the surface, to the streets to paint these items on the edge.”

“In grammar school I brought home, at 7 or 8 years old, a homeless person. My grandmother look at me and said, ‘What is going on Marco?’ I said, ‘He needs help, he’s hungry.’ That was in the 50s.”

Years later, Sassone moved to San Francisco, and between 1990 and 1994, dedicated his life to homelessness. Sassone learned about each person he painted and what led them to living on the streets.

“One major person that stands out in my mind is the man with the blue eyes,” Sassone said. “I approached him, he didn’t say a word. I asked his name, he didn’t know his name so I titled it, “The Man with the Blue Eyes,” which became a series of paintings.”

Through the years Sassone’s relationship with the homeless continued resulting in a collection of paintings and drawings, telling the stories of individuals we pass each day on our streets.

“I want people to know that when they see these people on the streets, it’s not a joke. These people are just like you and I, they were just unlucky,” he said.

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The exhibit “Home on the Streets” opened in San Francisco in 1994, travelled to Los Angeles and then Florence.

Finally it has made its way to Toronto, the city Sassone and his family now call home. Sassone’s debuting pieces from his collection at the Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery, Columbus Centre through April 21, 2019.

“These people who live on the streets deserve dignity,” Sassone said. “This is an underground of people that we are ignoring,” he said.

“And there has to be something that can be done.”

For more information on the “Home on the Streets” exhibition, visit www.villacharities.com

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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