Lionel Smit is a contemporary painter hailing from Pretoria, South Africa.
His work seeks to immortalize the human spirit through his paintings and exhibits.
In many of Lionel's pieces, there is a strong emphasis on how emotion and physiognomy can depict the complex range of internal dialogues and dispositions that we engage in and cycle through during our lifetimes.
To Lionel, the portrait itself acts as a lens or mirror in which we can reflect and ruminate on our personal sentiments.
In the complicated times we live in today, a simple portrait can, perhaps, enlighten us on the current state of the geographical region the model in the image represents.
Here, he gives us some insight into his motivations and philosophy.
Prox: Why have you chosen art as your medium of expression? Does it do something for you internally that couldn’t be done through other visionary avenues?
Lionel: It’s not something I remember choosing. My surroundings influenced me as I grew up, my father is a sculptor, which influenced me immensely, and resulted in me also producing art work.
Prox: What is it about portraits that speak to you on a deeper level? What does capturing these people in a particular expression do for you on a creative level?
Lionel: I think portraits and the human image are something that makes one reflect or communicate emotion on some level. I think that’s what draws me to making portraits and using that as a vehicle to express emotions and other concepts.
In terms of capturing an expression: when you are creating something, you are exploring that emotion for a brief time, and in a way you connect to it.
Prox: Which would you say is the most interesting or peculiar human emotion? Is that emotion your favorite to paint?
Lionel: When someone is in-thought and reflecting.
Prox: Why do you select the color schemes that you do and how do they contribute to the overall aesthetic of each piece?
Lionel: It’s mainly based on the idea of expression. It’s not something I always plan ahead of time, it just happens during the process.
Prox: What does art mean to you in a philosophical sense? Do you feel like it can contribute to the betterment of society?
Lionel: I suppose there are various ways to look at it. One can be that it reflects the times we live in and follows a collective of who we are as humans. I think in recent years it has become quite complicated with the internet, and has become more difficult to determine one trend, as there is so much going on.
I think art can spawn positivity in communities, and give people hope.
Prox: Can you talk to us about some of the tools you’re using for your photography/video work?
Prox: Any new artists, books, music, or shows you’d like to recommend?
Prox: Would you like to share some information on any upcoming releases you have on the horizon?
Lionel: I will be doing a solo exhibition with the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami from 15 March – 6 May.
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