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Thursday, 8 October 2020

Painting of the Month (94) October 2020: Lionel Smit

I don’t think I’ve included any African artists in this series before now. I don’t have a title or much information for this painting but I think there is a deep psychological element to it. The subject has incredibly sad eyes and there is hurt and pain behind them. I do know that the artist quotes Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud as his favourites. I think the use of impasto (heavy layering of paint with palette knife or brush) can be seen here and that’s evident in the work Francis Bacon and particularly Lucian Freud. You can clearly see the brush-marks the artist has made and that’s something I like in this kind of picture. Compare it, for example, with work of the Dutch masters where brush marks are never visible.

I found a quote about this painter and sculptor: “Each of Lionel Smit’s works offers us an entry point into the variety and richness that lies beneath every face we encounter, whether in life, in bronze or in paint”. I have shown some more of his work below.

I'm listening to some old Beatles recordings. How well they have stood the test of time, even the 'throw away' stuff! Currently it's Every Little Thing. You can here it here.



Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, This painting is certainly evocative with its sad face, blue drips resembling rain? tears?, and the many textures and layers of paint that can symbolize the complexity of the subject's life.

Some old master painters achieved a burnished-like surface, but sometimes the loss of impasto and brushwork is due to overcleaning though the years. I recall a Rembrandt in pristine condition in the Cleveland Museum of Art, on which the paint was practically sculpted to show details such as the veins on the arm.

Hels said...

Many of Smit's portraits are richly impasto'd, three dimensional and colourful - which I love.

But occasionally his portraits look finely drawn and only two dimensional. These are not as impressive.

bazza said...

Jim: Your point about the restored Rembrandt is interesting and food for thought. I believe my view is substantially correct but maybe there is some more research to do!

bazza said...

Hels: I was originally going to write about his sculptural work but I thought "Is that Painting of the Month?". I agree that some of his work is disappointing but the main picture has some merit, I think.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

The expression on the woman's face in that painting is mesmerizing, and the depth of pain, especially as it's reflected in her eyes, is heart-wrenching. In spite of my pale complexion, etc., when I look at her face, I can almost see myself. Partly, that's because I'm a bit of an empath, but mostly, it's because the painter is so darned talented.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - what an incredible painting - exuding the hurt and horror of a troubled life ... amazing artist. Thanks for introducing us to him and to his sculpture. No wonder he's exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery - great artist of the month: thank you ... all the best - Hilary

bazza said...

Susan: I absolutely agree with that! That you can see yourself within is really interesting. Her pain is on your radar.

bazza said...

Hilary: I missed that he had been shown in the National Portrait Gallery - one of my favourite galleries!