Uitstalling Kube

Lionel Smit

Pendulum
July 1 - October 2, 2022

PENDULUM

“Our human world is like a swinging pendulum,” muses Lionel Smit. “There’s constant flux in our emotional and psychological inner states, even in our physical reality,” he explains with a contemplative smile. It is largely this [continuously evolving] examination of fluid, amorphous ‘states of being’ which drives the South African painter and sculptor. 

In Pendulum, Smit’s central preoccupation has been to create visual conversations between classical post-Renaissance portraiture and modern expressionism. By doing so, the artist is able to examine and give life to these inner psychological states in new, dynamic ways. 

Smit’s exhibition is primarily comprised of a series of dialogic diptychs reminiscent of photo negatives and their printed inverse. Heavy masculine impasto brushstrokes both challenge and complement the finer feminine forms and figures displayed. Similarly, in his bronze sculptures, we see the thick layering of textures counteracting the intrinsic female gentility of the subject matter. The pendulum swings between these opposing forces to find its own idiosyncratic visual balance. 

Pendulum thus signifies an overt celebration of duality. An embracing of opposing forces. An ode to contradictions. 

Lionel Smit
Lionel Smit

Unfamiliar State, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

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Lionel Smit
Lionel Smit

Restrain, 2022, oil on linen, 230 x 170cm

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Lionel Smit
Lionel Smit

Unforeseen, 2021, bronze, edition of 8, 56 x 45 x 27cm

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Lionel Smit
Lionel Smit

Unfamiliar State, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

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Lionel Smit_Pendulum_2022_Uitstalling Art Gallery_KUBE Gallery_Studio Shots_Web00003.jpg

LIONEL SMIT

Lionel Smit is one of South Africa’s most prolific and exalted artists. His artistic diversity is pursued through a variety of mediums and he is best known for his contemporary portraiture. His art is defined by a deeply rooted symbiotic relationship between sculpture and painting. Today, each of Lionel Smit’s works offers us an entry point into the variety and richness that lies beneath every face we encounter in life, whether applied in bronze or paint. The blending of techniques across genres is a display of Smit’s work in multiple media, all bearing a visible and tangible overlap. 

Lionel Smit was born in 1982 in Pretoria, South Africa. Smit’s work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions, his painting Kholiswa has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London receiving the Viewer’s Choice Award. Collections including his works vary from Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection and his painting has been featured on the cover of Christie’s Auction Catalogue.

Unfamiliar State, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Unfamiliar State, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Pendulum, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Pendulum, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

 
Polarity #1, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Polarity #1, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Polarity #2, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Polarity #2, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Paused, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Paused, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Restrain, 2022, Oil on Linen, 230x170cm.jpg

Restrain, 2022, oil on linen, 230 x 170cm

Dispersion, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Dispersion, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Light Shift, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Light Shift, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Lionel Smit - Pendulum_XL.png
Breath, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Breath, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Effect, 2022, Oil on Linen, 150x150cm.jpg

Effect, 2022, oil on linen, 150 x 150cm

Convergence, 2022, Oil on Linen, 230x200cm.jpg

Convergence, 2022, oil on linen, 230 x 200cm

Lionel Smit - Sculptures.png
Unforseen - Lionel Smit

Unforeseen, 2021, bronze, edition of 8, 56 x 45 x 27cm

Lionel Smit - Mortal Form

Mortal Form, 2021, bronze, edition of 8, 62 x 46 x 26cm

Remerge - Lionel Smit

Remerge, 2021, bronze, edition of 12, 45 x 31 x 25cm

Counterpoise 4_12 1 low.jpg

Counterpoise, 2021, bronze, edition of 12, 81 x 35 x 30cm

Amalgamate - Lionel Smit

Amalgamate, 2021, bronze, edition of 12, 34 x 36 x 30cm

Lionel Smit - Surge

Surge, 2021, bronze, edition of 6, 135 x 70 x 50cm

Lionel Smit - Enswath

Enswathe, 2021, bronze, edition of 6, 192 x 130 x 100cm

Lionel Smit - Gallery2.png

PENDULUM: AN EXPLORATION OF DUALITY THROUGH PORTRAITURE

“Our human world is like a swinging pendulum,” muses Lionel Smit. “There’s constant flux in our emotional and psychological inner states, even in our physical reality,” he explains with a shy smile. As a contemporary portrait artist, it is largely this [continuously evolving] examination of fluid, amorphous ‘states of being’ which drives the South African painter and sculptor. 

In Pendulum, Smit’s central preoccupation has been to create visual conversations between classical post-renaissance portraiture and modern expressionism. By doing so, the artist is able to examine and give life to these inner psychological states in new, dynamic ways. 

The exhibition is primarily comprised of a series of dialogic diptychs reminiscent of photo negatives and their printed inverse. Heavy masculine impasto brushstrokes both challenge and complement the finer feminine forms and figures displayed. Similarly, in his bronze sculptures, we see the thick layering of textures counteracted the intrinsic female gentility of the subject matter. The pendulum swings between these opposing forces to find its own idiosyncratic visual balance. 

Pendulum thus signifies an overt celebration of duality. An embracing of opposing forces. An ode to contradictions.

The dynamic we observe when viewing the collection as a whole is a kinetic visual rendering of an internal discussion Smit continuously engages in with his younger self. As with his other recent exhibitions, the artist confesses a recurring urge to revisit an early fascination with classicism, now using evolved techniques he has come to master over the course of his career. 

For Smit – there is a deep consideration and breadth of understanding surrounding his own artistic journeying, as well as of the past, present, and future of art during this uncertain era we inhabit. As Smit works, he continuously intuits, explores, and compares. He re-evaluates and refines. He plays.

In this collection, we thus witness a return (the pendulum swing) to the delicately rendered depictions of 17th Century portraiture which captured the artist’s imagination in his earliest decades of working as a painter. In Pendulum, this delicacy is even more explicitly juxtaposed through the artist’s counter sway toward abstract expressionism and application of brighter and more striking hues. 

Image backgrounds and female visages themselves echo the push and pull between opposing forces: blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows show a joyful and unbounded celebration of colour, powerfully contrasted with the realism of Smit’s representation of the female form. In another diptych, the artist plays with more monochromatic tonalities to reveal the intricate dualism that exists even within a more limited palette.

This exhibition places contrast, opposites, and contradictions at centre stage and eagerly celebrates them. Contrary forces, as Chinese yin yang philosophy argues, are in fact complementary. A duality retains two essential elements but, unlike a dualism, the two elements are interdependent and no longer separate or opposed, even though they remain conceptually distinct.

Explained in terms of physics, Smit’s exhibit sees Newton’s Cradle at play through art. The subjects and styles Smit artfully combines, create an elastic collision of forces. Their merged kinetic energies result in a return to harmony, balance and stasis. From both a thematic and stylistic perspective, Smit audaciously combines centripetal and centrifugal forces that allow for the pendulum to keep swinging. This, after all, governs its internal dynamics. But though intention, discipline, and unfaltering vision, the artist paints his way toward a space of visual equilibrium where these seemingly contradictory forces harmoniously coexist. 

 

In Pendulum, the past is in constant conversation with the present, and we are invited to participate on our own terms.