artnet Asks: Painter and Sculptor Lionel Smit

The painter and sculptor talks about his family and his upcoming show in Hong Kong.

Photo: courtesy of the artist and Martin Venter.

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.

Lionel Smit, Accumulation of Disorder (2013)  Photo: courtesy of the artist and Cynthia Reeves Gallery.

Lionel Smit, Accumulation of Disorder (2013)
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Cynthia Reeves.

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.

Lionel Smit, Dissipate #1 Oil on Linen 74.8 x 74.8 in. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Lionel Smit, Dissipate #1 (2014)
Oil on Linen 74.8 x 74.8 in.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lionel Smit, Morphous () Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Lionel Smit, Morphous (2014)
Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

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.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics