artnet Asks: Painter and Sculptor Lionel Smit
The painter and sculptor talks about his family and his upcoming show in Hong Kong.
Born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1982, Lionel Smit attended art school at Pro Arte Alphen Park. There, he started developing and exhibiting his now signature style of massive painterly and sculpture portraits. Drawing inspiration from the action painters of the 1940s, Smit’s practice revolves around the spiritual act of painting. Smit exhibits locally in South Africa, and globally, including at the National Portrait Gallery, where one of his paintings was chosen as the “face” of the BP Portrait Award 2013.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
It wasn’t something I decided at first, but I grew up in an artistic home—my father is a sculptor—so it is something that came naturally to me. Later, while in art school, I knew that that is what I wanted to do.
What inspires you?
I would not say that there was one specific thing that inspires me, but the creative process intrigues me, and I am very passionate about that.
If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
That is a difficult one… But I have always been in love with the painting La Hollande’s by Walter Sickert, and I always make a point to go and see it at the Tate Britian. I usually spend quite some time looking at it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am always working on various projects. Right now, I am preparing for a show coming up in Hong Kong.
When not making art, what do you like to do?
To spend time with my wife and four-year-old daughter, and hanging out at some wine farms—Cape Town is such a beautiful place to live in, with lots of beautiful things to see.
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