Lionel Smit

Creating unordinary portraits of women, both representational and abstract, Lionel Smit sources his inspiration from the Cape Malay Community. Guided by influences of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Andy Warhol, he combines gestural brushstrokes, splattered and dripping paint, with patches of colour applied across the heads of his subjects. Smit’s sculptures invoke similar feelings to that of their two-dimensional counterparts, yet, a further addition of depth in its actuality, he imbues his pieces with less foreboding and melancholy. The opaque softness of the paintings is replaced with highly detailed hatching, clay protrusions, and grooved surfaces. The layers of intense colouring are reproduced as physically perceivable textures in this medium.

Smit’s work is deeply permeated with the symbiotic relationship between painting and sculpture. Exploding from the canvas, the aggressively layered colours are a nice smack in the face, especially when juxtaposed with the extreme tenderness with which he treats the portraiture. A planned chaos ensues on the canvas, both swatting away and serving up real-life moments. The eyes of his subjects appear to tell a story which acts on the intellects of those in view. The viewer is often assuaged and provoked at the same time. His sculptures are made of bronze which reveals it to be suited material for his interventions on it. He creates them using one of the oldest known techniques – wax casting method.

Lionel Smit’s art explores identity and ever-changing nature of South Africa’s social landscape. The dialogue between expressive and figurative in his work, reveals the understanding of identity in a context of the multi-cultural environment. The avant-garde approach to the medium has allowed him to constantly move the limits of his expression. Each of his works offers an insight into strong emotions of the faces, whether applied in paint or bronze. His inventive and physically engaging style enabled him to achieve success all over the world.

Lionel Smit

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