South African artists Lionel Smit was born in Pretoria in 1982. He comes from a highly artistic background, and the young artist’s father passed down the generational talent that is prominent and evident in his works today. Currently a Capetonian, Smit is best known for his contemporary portraiture of Cape Malay women which is executed through monumental canvasses and bronze sculptured heads of the latter.
Smit has been exhibiting locally as well as internationally for nearly 10 years, and during that time managed to establish a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Graff Delaire Wine Estate. He is also currently considered one of South Africa’s youngest investment artists. Smit has added various awards behind his name, including the Viewer’s Choice Award at the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the ‘face’ of the BP Portrait Award in 2013. He was also honoured with a Ministerial Award from the Department of Culture for Visual Art, and a highlight of his career has been the publication of one of his paintings on the cover of Christie’s Auction Catalogue. He is currently exhibiting on art fairs in Amsterdam, Germany, India, Miami, Monaco, London and Hong Kong.
Although this artist’s work once again recently sold out at the Rook and Raven galleries in London before any of the pieces were even installed, there is no doubt that Smit’s feet are still firmly on the ground. On a question referring to this very exhibition, he simply answers, “It is amazing. I am very fortunate. Over the last five years of being in London all of my exhibitions have sold out. I am very blessed.”
But what drives this master of art in reaching success after success? Firstly, his family. Then, of course, also his true passion for creating pieces that are simply unique and exclusive, depicting and bringing life to an African culture that is so rich and full of life but so easily overlooked.
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