(b.1982 South Africa)

Lionel Smit is best known for his contemporary portraiture executed through monumental canvases and sculptures. Perhaps more than anything else, Smit’s work is defined by a profound and ongoing dialogue between sculpture and painting.

A multidisciplinary artist, each of Smit’s works offer us an entry point into the variety and richness that lies beneath every face we encounter in life, whether applied in bronze or in paint. While retaining their austerity and meditative aesthetic, Smit's figures remain highly charged with the emotive and gestural energy of his creative process.

Smit’s paintings begin with abstract lines and swathes of colour that establish a foundation for the subsequently overlaid image of a face or bust – in most cases of anonymous models from the Cape Malay community. For Smit, the Cape Malay woman epitomises hybrid identity within a South African context and reflects the fragmentation of identity within our increasingly globalised world.

Smit’s bronzes are created using the lost wax casting method. Patinas commonly available to artists working in bronze include natural browns, blacks and greens. However, given the importance of colour to Smit, he uses alternative methods that result in a unique fusion of intensely saturated patinas. Brilliant streaks of blues and greens enrich the grooves of an ear, while the natural shadow of an eyelid is intensified by the deepening of rich black patinas. Smit’s ability to manipulate the patination process, coupled with his focused enthusiasm for surface gradations, has allowed him to consistently push boundaries.

Based in Somerset west, Cape Town, Smit’s process as an artist today remains adaptive, inventive, and physically engaging and he has achieved success internationally, from Hong Kong to London and New York.

Smit's painting has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London where it received the Viewer’s Choice Award, as well as selected as the 'face' of the BP Portrait Award 2013. In 2016, Smit, in collaboration with Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, installed a public art installation, ‘Morphous’, in New York’s Union Square. He received a Ministerial Award from the South African Department of Culture for Visual Art.

Over the past 10 years Smit has established a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Delaire Graff Wine Estate.



Suspended, Everard Read, Franschhoek, South Africa
Verso, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa
Reposition, Uitstalling Gallery, Ghent, Belgium

Destructure, Everard Read, London, United Kingdom
Manipulated Image, Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa

Obscura, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA
Divide, Art|Life Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

State, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
Emerge, M Contemporary, Sydney, Australia
Faces of Identity, Everard Read, London, UK
Premise, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa

New Work, Rook & Raven Special Project Space at Armory Art Fair, New York City, USA
Didrichsen Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
Morphous, installation in Union Square, New York, USA
Echo, Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, Massachusetts, USA
Trace, Rook & Raven, New York, USA

FNB Joburg Art Fair, Everard Read booth, Johannesburg, South Africa
Close/ Perspective, Everard Read Johannnesburg, South Africa
Origins, Rook & Raven, London, UK
Recurrence, M Contemporary, Sydney, Australia
Obscura, Everard Read Cape Town, South Africa
Accumulation of Disorder installation, Independent Art Projects, MASS MoCA Campus, USA

Morphous, CIRCA, Johannesburg, South Africa
Cumulus, Rook & Raven, London, UK
Contronym, Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong

Art Miami Fair, featured artist, Cynthia Reeves, Miami, USA
IS Sculpture, IsArt, Tokara, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Strarta Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, Rook & Raven, London, UK
Fragmented, Rook & Raven, London, UK
100 Accumulation, Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa
Wonder Works Exhibition, The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong

Compendium, 34FineArt, Cape Town, South Africa
Strata, Rook and Raven, London, UK

Surface, Artspace, Johannesburg, South Africa

Submerge, 34FineArt, Cape Town, South Africa

Relate, Grande Provence, Franschhoek, South Africa


Summer 2021, Everard Read, London, UK

Bronze, Steel, Stone & Bone, Everard Read, London, UK
Staring Straight to the Future, online exhibition, Everard Read, UK & South Africa
Masterpiece online, with Everard Read, London, UK

Winter, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa
Art Central Fair, with M Contemporary, Hong Kong
CONTEXT Art Miami, with Everard Read, Miami, USA

Winter, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa
Sydney Contemporary, with M Contemporary, Sydney, Australia

Exposed, Helen Day Art Center, Vermont, USA
Art Miami, Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, Miami, USA
Art Central, M Contemporary, Hong Kong

Opening Gallery Exhibition, Everard Read London, UK
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Everard Read booth, Cape Town, South Africa

Bronze, Steel & Stone, Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa
FNB Joburg Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery Booth, Johannesburg, South Africa
Art Miami Fair Featured Artist, Cynthia Reeves Gallery, USA

Summer Season, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Art Taipei, Cat Street Gallery, Taiwan
Fugitive Identity, Cynthia Reeves, USA

BP Portrait Award Exhibition, Viewer’s Choice Award , National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
Metal Work Public sculpture, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Accumulation of Disorder, University of Stellenbosch Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winter, Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa
Robert Bowman Gallery, India Art Fair, India
Joburg Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery Booth, Johannesburg, South Africa

34FineArt, ArtMonaco ‘11, Monaco
MOMAC, Group Exhibition, Roberta Moore Fine Art, England

Out of the Office, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany
Cynthia Reeves Projects, Art Miami, USA
We are not Witches, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK

F.A.C.E.T., Charity Auction, Christie’s, London, UK


Visitors’ Choice Award, PB Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
Ministerial Award from Department of Culture for Visual Art, Western Cape Government, South Africa

Merit Award, Vuleka, Sanlam Art Competition, Cape Town, South Africa

Achievement Award, Pro Arte School of Arts, Pretoria, South Africa

First prize in the MTN Art Colours Awards of Gauteng, South Africa

Best painting student Pro Arte School of Arts, Pretoria, South Africa


Delaire Graff Wine Estate, South Africa
Ellerman Contemporary, South Africa
European Investment Bank, South Africa
Grainvest Futures, South Africa
Johannesburg City Council, South Africa
Johann Jacobs Museum, South Africa
Laurence Graff Collection, South Africa
Parkdev, South Africa
Rand Merchant Bank, South Africa
Saronsberg Wine Estate, South Africa
South African Embassy, Nigeria
Standard Chartered Bank, South Africa