Rook & Raven Gallery is pleased to announce our first showing of the ethereal sculptural works of Lionel Smit. Entitled ‘Fragmented’, this will be Smit’s first ever solo exhibition devoted entirely to his sculptures, and featuring a range of masks and busts in bronze.

Lionel Smit was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1982, and now lives and works in Cape Town. Primarily a painter and sculptor, his works explore the deconstruction of the portrait – thus exposing the inner depths and workings of persona through his inimitable creative methodology.

With his muse most often the Cape Malay woman, Smit’s work centres heavily on identity, realised through the formation of disparate layering; reminiscent to viewing fragments of the subject’s genealogy, through a sporadically translucent complexion – arrested by a purposely flawed surface . Upon closer inspection, the viewer loses oneself within the seemingly volatile and abstracted surface, left to decipher moments of the artist’s bold and fragmented mark making , indicative of his imposing painterly aesthetic.

The sculptural process – evident in Smit’s unique moulding technique – becomes as significant as the subject; the procedure itself challenging the way we create an understanding of identity through art. And rather than simply representing a model’s identifiable characteristics verbatim, Smit blurs the fabric of realism through abstraction: the dense and robust surface is like a landscape, plied and wrought, yet fragile and fallible, becoming then like flesh itself. Smit’s unique painterly lexicon translates effortlessly to the sculptural medium, representing a mask from which these character’s flaws are intermittently hidden, yet symbolically bringing these imperfections to the surface with a tangible ambiguity.

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 Gallery
7 Rathbone Place
London W1T IHN United Kingdom
Ph. +44 (0)20 73230805

Opening hours
Tuesday - Friday from 11.00am to 6.30pm
Saturdays from 11.00am to 5.00pm