Lionel Smit at work in his studio. Image:

Lionel Smit, the internationally featured local artist, began his art career almost immediately, exhibiting straight after graduating at Pro Arte Alphen Park. He now lives and works in his studio in Cape Town. DECO found out more.
Formation, Oil on Linen, 190 x 250cm, 2015 by Lionel Smit

Lionel has won the likings of quite a few collectors, namely the Franschoek Wine Estate, Graff Delaire, where his sculptures bring awe to all viewers, as well as solo exhibitions across Amsterdam, Germany, India, Miami, Monaco, London and Hong Kong. It’s safe to say, Lionel is internationally respected and admired.

Obscura sculpture by Lionel Smit at Delaire Graff Estate

Smit’s painting was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, where it received the Viewer’s Choice Award, as well as being selected as the ‘face’ of the BP Portrait Award 2013 for all campaigns. He was recently 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.

‘Fragments’ by Lionel Smit

Being as successful as you are, what are some of your most proud and precious moments in your career?

I would say receiving acclaim overseas. I was also very honoured to receive the Viewers’ Choice Award at the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Share with us a day in the life of Lionel Smit.

I usually spend some time with my two kids in the morning – Vera who is five, and Lucian who is one year old. Then I head off to the studio, where various projects await me. I feel that my process involves a lot of activity in the studio. I move from station to station – painting, sculpting, print-making and drawing. I often visit the foundry to check the bronzes that are being cast. A lot of coffee is necessary during the day, but I wind down with a glass of wine.

Lionel Smit Studio

What do you foresee in the future of South African Art?

I think the South African art scene has grown immensely in the past five years. It’s very evident with various events and art fairs popping up all over the country. If you look at Cape Town’s First Thursdays, I think it’s obvious that there has never been so many galleries and artists that bring a city together on such a level.

To read more about Lionel and his work, visit his website or his Instagram

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