Lionel Smit, in collaboration with Artlife, presents the solo exhibition DIVIDE. DIVIDE is Lionel Smit’s first solo show on the West Coast of the the USA and includes some of his latest pieces from his Cape Town based studio. A selection of work will also be traveling from his solo exhibition OBSCURA, that was recently held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami.
DIVIDE forms part of Smit’s ongoing conversation about identity, drawing from the racial diversity in South Africa and probing how we are shaped – and placed – by our identity. Smit homes in on an ethnic group with a rich, complex and often fraught history: the Cape Malay people of Cape Town. Shipped to the Cape as slaves from the Dutch East Indies during the height of colonialism, their bloodlines have since mingled with those of European settlers and African indigenes over successive generations, resulting in a hybridised masala of identity, language and culture that continues to evolve.
Through the visages contemplated in his sculptures and paintings, Smit closely observes this fluidity, challenging simplistic race-based physical stereotypes by depicting a succession of dynamic and multifaceted personae. His subjects may identify with a particular group, but their diversity within that social structure renders them unique. Smit started painting the Cape Malay people in his surrounds when he moved to Cape Town in 2008 they hybrid identity has become an ongoing subject matter.
In DIVIDE, Smit explores the idea of the divides in our identities and the complexities of race. He finds a universality in the Cape Malay that connects us all as humans. The creation of a universal person, that is not from one particular race, but who represents us all. The exhibition runs from 27 September to 28 October 2018 showcasing Smit’s portraiture, sculpture and silkscreens.