Face to Face with Lionel Smit
Written by: Kwesi Adjin

South African artist Lionel Smit vacillates effortlessly between painting and sculpture.  His portraitures evoke feelings of angst, love, human connection and pain.  He has exhibited his works all around the world and has developed an international following with collectors and commissioning institutions.

Style.No.Chaser staunchly believes that art is subjective.  Art should touch, rattle or obliterate something inside you.  Lionel Smit’s works disrupts your inner being, not only with beauty, but with unforced perspective.  We were once again honored to hold audience with such a stimulating individual.

See the interview below …

“I think a lot of things are governed by our emotions, so ………….”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?

I grew up in Pretoria. My father is a sculptor, and I grew up playing in his studio, which eventually lead to me making art work. I am married now, with two children, and living in Cape Town, South Africa.

What does your art mean to you?

It means I can live out my dream. I am very privileged to be able to be creative every day and make a living from what i do.

What tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal art style?

I mostly use oil paint for paintings and bronze for sculptures. I use all kinds of tools for painting – squeegees, pallet knives, brushes, and sometimes even masking tape. My style has been evolving over the past ten years. It’s basically a combination of everything that inspires me.

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?

Critique: Someone asked me whether I can paint more refined works.

Compliment: When I received the Visitor’s Choice Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London last year.

Does your creative outlet differ with your mood – meaning, are you likely to paint versus sculpt or vice versa depending on how you feel?

Yes, I think a lot of things are governed by our emotions, so yes, I definitely think there is a connection between how I feel and what I do.

Has commercial success affected your work or your creativity?

I think I’ll be lying if I say it does not affect me or my work. I think one should always take a step back and reevaluate oneself as an artist, and this is something I always try to do.

Which artist/s do you look up to the most?

Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon have always been great inspirations for me. I often rediscover people that inspire me – including more contemporary artists.

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?

A beard.

What is your personal life philosophy?

“If it feels good, it’s probably right.”

How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?

I update my Facebook page (Lionel Smit Art) quite regularly with upcoming shows, as well as works I’m busy with in the studio.

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