Lionel Smith is a South African artist, known for his contemporary portraiture executed through large sculptures and canvasses.

Lionel Smit is best known for his monumental portraits executed through large canvases & sculptures. Born in 1982 in Pretoria, South Africa, Lionel was exposed to a world of sculpture by his father who is a renowned sculptor.


His paintings start with abstract lines and swaths of colour that establish a base for the subsequently overlaid image of a face or bust – in most cases posed by anonymous models from the Cape Malay community. For Smit, the Cape Malay woman epitomizes hybrid identity within a South African context, and reflects the disintegrating construction of identity within our increasingly globalized world.

Smit continues his visual and tactile exploration of hybrid identity and its ever changing and emerging nature within South Africa’s psycho-social landscape. While retaining all their austerity and peaceful aesthetic, Smit’s figures remain highly charged with the emotive and gestural energy of his creative process.


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 Delaire Graff Wine Estate.

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(The article was originally produced in The Tiles of India magazine, Sept-Oct 2016 issue)


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