The South-African born artist Lionel Smit is known for his contemporary portraits printed on large canvases and sculptures. His artistic style is unique in his ability to seamlessly amalgamate elements of sculpture and paint.
Most often he implements bold abstract lines and swaths of color to visibly overlay tan image of a bust or head. Smit chooses Cape Malay women as his subjects, explaining that they epitomize a hybrid identity while remaining true to South African roots.
Smit uses his daily surroundings and experiences as inspiration, focusing on the disintegration of individualism in an increasingly globalized society. Precedent in his work is historical and aesthetic components that provoke dialogue between the expressive and figurative abstract.
Consistency is a key theme in the work Smit displays. Though his subjects share a commonality of origin, he uses their faces as a medium to experiment with bronze, color, stroke and technique. The lost wax casting method creates his method of bronzing the busts. Fond of color in his works, Smit uses alternative methods to create unique patinas in the bronze.
Smit uses his method of fashioning patinas to elaborate on the features of the bust she creates. He uses darker brown or black patinas to color the eye, or create shadow and dimension in the face. Meanwhile he utilizes blue toned patinas to emphasize features like the ridges of an ear, or as overlay for the face.
Within South Africa’s psychosocial landscape, Smit goes forth with his tactile and visual expression of hybrid identity and its emerging and evolving nature. Smit preserves the austere complex of the roots of his South African culture while expressing a highly emotive and gestural creative energy in his figures.
Today, Lionel Smit is based out of Strand, Cape Town where he continues to absorb the dynamics of his surroundings and integrate them visually and emotively into his work. His work has been seen across the world, including sold out exhibits in Hong Kong and London.
Significant feats in Smit’s career include his work being displayed on the cover ofChristie’s Auction Catalogue, an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London where his painting received the Viewer’s Choice Award, as well as being selected as the “face” of the BP portrait for all campaigns. Smit is a recipient of the MinisterialAward presented by the Department of Culture for Visual Art, and an exhibition entitled “Morphous” in conjunction with Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, installed publically in Union Square, New York.
He has acquired a wide international following of collectors of his work over the past 10 years, including Laurence Graff Art Collection and Delaire Graff Wine Estate to the Standard Chartered Bank.