BEVELY HILLS, Calif. -- In his first solo show on the West Coast, South African contemporary artist, Lionel Smit presents his latest works, in collaboration with Artlife, a gallery located in Beverly Hills, CA. The exhibition is entitled DIVIDE and includes pieces Smit created at his Cape Town-based studio. The exhibition showcases Smit's portraiture, sculpture, and silkscreens. A selection of his work from his solo exhibition OBSCURA, which was recently held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Florida, will also be on display. The DIVIDE solo exhibition by Smit will runs through October 28, 2018.
When asked where he got his inspiration for those works, the artist replied, "DIVIDE comes from my thoughts about identity and the racial diversity in South Africa. I've been probing how we are shaped and placed by our identity." Through his sculptures and paintings, Smit closely observes and challenges simplistic race-based physical stereotypes through the depiction of a succession of dynamic and multifaceted personae. His subjects may identify with a particular group, but what renders them unique is their diversity within that social structure.
The DIVIDE Solo Exhibition draws heavily on the Cape Malay people of Cape Town, an ethnic group with a rich and complex history. During the height of colonialism of the Dutch East Indies, the Cape Malay people were shipped to the Cape as slaves. Since that time their bloodlines have mingled over successive generations with those of European settlers and African indigents. This has resulted in a hybridized mixture of identity, language, and culture that continues to evolve to this day. When he moved to Cape Town in 2008, Smit started painting the Cape Malay people and they have become an ongoing subject for him.
"In DIVIDE, I explore the idea of the divides in our identities and the complexities of race," he says. "I find 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."
Smit is a contemporary abstract expressionist artist whose gestural and colorful depictions in this exhibit are of the Cape Malay. Mixed-race South African women are expressed on large-scale paintings and sculptures made of resin and fiberglass or cast in bronze. Using inventive techniques and bold color choices, Smit gives people his unique interpretation of the human head, face and form.
His oil portraits are rendered as silkscreens on linen or painted directly on canvas. They are a mixture of realistic renderings of his human subjects overlaid with thick and thin marks and brushstrokes. There is a dynamic quality to the paintings through the unique juxtaposition of static imagery and frenetic markings.
On his sculptures, Smit uses a hand-finished rubbing of automotive paint on his resin and fiberglass sculptures, which adds the feeling of having discovered masks from an ancient time with its layered patina. Intense blue bronze sculptures capture the look of cool ambivalence on the faces they portray.
Born in Pretoria, South Africa, on October 22, 1982, Smit began studying sculpture at an early age. His father, Anton Smit, is a celebrated South African sculptor. As his career grew, he soon became popular both in his home country and also abroad, especially in London and Hong Kong.
His solo exhibitions include: Faces at the Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland; New Release at Everard Read in Johannesburg, South Africa; Trace at Rook & Raven in New York; Obscura 2 at Rook & Raven in London; and Echo at CYNTHIA-REEVES, campus of MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA.
The exhibition entitled OBSCURA, was a solo exhibition by Smit held at Everard Reed in Cape Town, South Africa in 2015. Some of the pieces from that exhibit will also be on display at the Lionel Smit DIVIDE Solo Exhibition. That same year Smit also held solo exhibitions in Sydney, Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa, and in London.
His work can be found in the collections of many prominent establishments across South Africa including: Parkdev; Johann Jacobs Museum; Ellerman Contemporary; Standard Chartered Bank; Laurence Graff; Rand Merchant Bank; European Investment Bank, Johannesburg City Council; Saronsberg Wine Estate; Grainvest Futures; Delaire Graff Wine Estate; and the South African Embassy, Nigeria.
Lionel Smit lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Those who are interested in seeing more of the works of Lionel Smit, can visit the Artlife Gallery at 655 N. Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA, or visit the gallery's website at artlife.com.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]
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