Primarily a painter and sculptor, Lionel Smit’s paintings are devoted to the deconstruction of the portrait. Portraiture is his preferred mode. He usually paints anonymous people, most often the Cape Malay women, making their faces memorable. For Smit, identity formation is similar to exposing the anatomy of the canvas. Cumulus is Lionel Smit’s third London exhibition. This brand new body of work features a selection of original paintings and etchings, alongside a collection of bronze sculptures. Cumulus opens at Rook and Raven in London on Friday 21st March, until April 30th.
Smit’s paintings are monumental in scale and looked at from a distance they are breathtaking. But upon close inspection of Smit’s canvas, the viewer loses himself within the abstracted surface. The picture plane begins to disintegrate. The viewer is only able to decipher bold brush strokes and colors as indicative of an individual artist’s identity. The face is interrupted by bands of solid color and gestural swathes of paint. However, Smit’s paintings retain ties to figuration.
Lionel Smit has established a substantial global following in recent years, with a succession of sold out exhibitions, strong auction results, and his inclusion in this year’s National Portrait Prize. His works now adorn many high profile public and private collections, including the Graff Estate and Standard Chartered Bank, to name but a few.
Rook & Raven is a gallery, publisher of fine art prints and books, and creative portal situated in the heart of London’s Fitzrovia district. Rook & Raven Gallery was founded in 2010 by Richard Grindy and Rachelle Lunnon, to encourage alternative artistic practice, forming a bridge between commercial and progressive art forms from both emerging and established international artists.