Lionel Smit was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1982, he started developing and exhibiting straight after Art school at Pro Arte Alphen Park. He now lives and works in Cape Town. He is best known for his contemporary portraiture executed through monumental canvasses and sculptures.WOW! Lionel Smits monumental works remain ever-popular&leaves you hungry for more. His large portraits combine realism with expressive mark-making and bold colour. The close up, closely-cropped faces of Smit’s portraits often look directly at the viewer, their strength enhanced by the striking colours and thick brush-marks. Smit’s bronze sculptures evoke the same strength as his paintings: ‘Morphous’, shown recently at CIRCA in Johannesburg.

Lionel Smit Sculptoringlionel-smit-siren-triptych-2-oil-on-belgian-linen-190-x-190cm-2013

Smit exhibits locally in South Africa where he is considered one of the countries youngest investment artists and deserves the regonition. He has exhibited on art fairs in Amsterdam, Germany, India, Miami, Monaco, London and Hong Kong.Over the past 10 years he has established a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Graff Delaire wine estate.Smit’s painting has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, where it was chosen as the ‘face’ of the BP Portrait Award 2013. He was  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 just keeps blossoming.



2013 Accumulation, solo exhibition, Everard Read, Johannesburg


Compendium, solo exhibition, 34FineArt, Cape Town  Accumulation of Disorder, solo Exhibition, University of Stellenbosch Gallery, Stellenbosch Strata, solo exhibition, Rook and Raven, London


Surface, solo exhibition, Artspace, Johannesburg Submerge, solo exhibition, 34FineArt, Cape Town


Relate, solo exhibition, Grande Provence, Franschhoek SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS


BP Portrait Award Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London Wonder Works Group Exhibition, The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong

Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong Art13 London Art Fair, London


Winter Exhibition, Everard Read, Johannesburg

Robert Bowman Gallery, India Art Fair, India Jhb Art Fair, Everard Read, Johannesburg


34FineArt, ArtMonaco ’11, Monaco2010 Cynthia Reeves Projects, group exhibition, Art Miami, USA We are not Witches, group exhibition, Saatchi Gallery, London Out of the Office, group exhibition, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany


F.A.C.E.T., Charity Auction, Christie’s, London Group 09, group exhibition, 34Long Fine Art, Cape Town Gesprek, group exhibition, University of Stellenbosch Gallery, Stellenbosch


REFLECTIONS, group exhibition, Rust-en-Vrede, Durbanville Day Dream, two man show with Jaco Benade, Magpie Gallery, Centurion Rendezvous – focus wearable art, Fada Art Gallery, Johannesburg Reflect/refuel, group exhibition, Association of Arts, Pretoria Twenty artists/twenty portraits, UCA Gallery, Cape Town

Qualifications and awards: 2013 Ministerial Award from Department of Art and Culture for Visual Art, Western Cape Government 2009 Merit Award, Vuleka, Sanlam Art Competition, Cape Town 2008 Achievement Award, Pro Arte School of Arts 2000 First prize in the MTN Art Colours Awards of Gauteng 1999/2000 Best painting student Pro Arte School of Arts .


Lionel has achieved so much and that has kept him grounded and humble to produce more magical work.Mr Smit is a magnificent painter .His work is a very act of painting constitute to his fine art to the fullest degree. Drawing on the American action painters of the late 1940s, Smit cites the painting process as his first and lasting concern: ‘Painting to me is like an energy release…with the finished painting being only the physical manifestation, a kind of residue, of the actual work of art, which is the act… of the painting’s creation itself.’says Lionel.

Smit’s subject matter is consistent portraiture is his preferred mode and his models are hand-picked out of the tapestry of his daily life. These are not famous people, or people with extraordinary power within their communities. The people Smit chooses to paint uphold a particular aesthetic that appeals to his visual sensitivity, but nothing more in the way of social influence. These faces tell an unknown story yet to be known,these faces are imbued with an immense authority that is impossible to overlook, you just cant stop and think whose beautiful face is this?


His refusal to refute figurative painting altogether, opting rather for a compromise between his delight in the act of painting and diligent representation, Smit attributes to his belief in the ‘portrait as a vehicle to communicate a broader subject. Despite Smit’s view of the painting as secondary to the act of painting itself, this energy is not lost to the viewer. Residues of the action remain. Through the access point of the represented face the audience, although prevented from viewing what Smit views as the artwork itself, is able nonetheless to ‘participate in the beauty of the body as a landscape of all human experience.

Smit engages you in his work, he gives you that thirsty and hunger of the origin of the painting and inspiration behind it. In Lionel’s words “the creation of each painting are ‘a burst of energy that feels uncontrollable at first’. Smit is a spontaneous artist.

Artworks exhibit residues of their originating sparks. The thrill, or terror, or anticipation, or eagerness that accompanies the welling up of ambition and the first stirrings of artistic action can often be discerned in the work’s physical enactments and its conceptual transcendence. Inspiration often supplies the compelling power that makes art captivating.LIONEL SMIT 15 LIONEL SMIT 11 LIONEL SMIT 9

I am inlove with Lionel Smit’s work,may he keep on producing Art at its best, can my face be one of his portraits? I would love that 🙂

Interact with Lionel

Twitter @lionelsmit

Instagram: @lionelsmit




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