Getting to know Lionel Smit

Lionel shares his story, which starts with his initial exposure to the art world and continues to include impressive career highlights. He even intrigues us with a comprehensive list of workspace essentials…

At what age (or moment) did you realise you were an artist; or when did you begin to consider a career in Art?

I don’t remember an actual moment thinking, “I want to become an artist”. My father is a sculptor and I grew up in his studio. It’s something that was integrated into my daily life.

Which art period(s) or movements resonate with you?

Mainly Abstract Expressionism and Fauvism, but I think I draw inspiration from various movements.

In your opinion, what are common challenges most contemporary artists face?

To be taken seriously and to be seen in this ever-expanding
art world.

Share a morning ritual that you believe contributes to a good start to a working day.

A lot of coffee.

Share 5 workspace essentials you simply cannot live without.

I have a lot of trollies for brushes, paint and other art supplies.
I use technology such as computers and projectors – to speed
up my process. Cameras for taking photographs of models. My
highly efficient assistants. And a chainsaw for sculpting.

Where do you mainly draw your inspiration from?

Mainly from the  various cultural identities that surround me.

Can anyone be an artist, or do they require raw talent and specific skills?

I think there’s an artist in everyone – it’s just the way that you
apply and practise it.

In your exciting career, is there one specific piece, collection or exhibition that you’re particularly proud of?

I was very honoured that my work was chosen for the BP Portrait
Award in 2013, displayed in London’s National Portrait Gallery –
and that it won the Viewer’s Choice Award.

Name a local or international event that art lovers and artists should try and attend at least once.

Locally, the Johannesburg Art Fair. Internationally, Art Basel.

Which country or city would you revisit in a heartbeat, purely for art and cultural reasons?

Sydney – I was surprised by the beautiful public exhibition they had,
called “Sculptures by the Sea”. It really showed how much we can
grow as a country in terms of appreciating public art display.

Which three destinations should be on every artist’s or art lover’s bucket list?

London, Hong Kong and New York.

Which interesting art trends have you been noticing in 2015? Any predictions for 2016? Please elaborate.

In recent years, there has been a big movement towards
modernism. At the same time, globalisation of the art market
has become so saturated, that I don’t think there will be
one specific trend at a time.

Tell us about contemporary art trends you’ve incorporated in your work recently, if any.

I wouldn’t say that I have been following any specific trends,
as I feel my work should evolve naturally and comes with
experimentation within the studio.