About Lionel Smit
In his expressive paintings, prints, and sculptures, Lionel Smit focuses on the residents of Cape Town, South Africa, in portraits at once representational and abstract. The members, most often the women, of the ethnic Cape Malay community serve as especially frequent subjects. He cites Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and Lucian Freud as influences, for their use, in his words, of “the human portrait to create something extraordinary.” Often working at monumental scale, Smit, in his own paintings, combines gestural brushstrokes, dripping and splattered paint, and lush patches of color with a naturalistic rendering of the heads and faces of his many subjects. His sculptures, too, evince this blend of naturalism and abstraction, with their heavily modeled, sometimes fragmentary, surfaces. For Smit, this form of portraiture gets beneath the skin to reveal the multifaceted nature of his human subjects.
South African, b. 1982