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Smit Mountain Gallery at Idiom.

Generations of Expression

Idiom is proud to host “Generations of Expression”, an exhibition of celebrated father and son artists, Anton Smit & Lionel Smit at its new wine tasting pavilion in the Helderberg winelands. Set on the top of one of the highest view points in the Helderberg, the sculptural pieces echo the environment and add gravitas to the breathtaking setting.

For the creation of the home of Idiom wines father and son Bottega joined forces and have conceptualized the space, marrying South African modernity with Italian heritage. From the Idiom Tasting Centre, panoramic views of the majestic Helderberg and the Cape Peninsula even offer a look on the Strand-based studio of these world-renowned South African artists.

Besides, Idiom is an expression that holds meaning, while the nature of a portrait is to capture the expression. Elaborating on this theme these artists form their own language through sculpture and painted form. Through their art they show their profound faith as well as their passion for personal expression.

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Biography Anton Smit

Anton Smit was born on 2 August 1954 in Boksburg, South Africa. At the age of sixteen, he entered his first sculpting competition and won the first prize. At twenty-five, he took the first prize at the SA Association of Arts’ New Signatures competition. Following successful exhibitions in Nelspruit, White River, Pretoria and Cape Town, the demand for his work rose to such an extent he began focusing wholly on sculpting, turning his calling into his profession.

Says Smit: “Creation continues incessantly through the medium of man. Man emulates and assimilates nature, producing poetry in word and form”. His body of work comprises human figures, heads, masks, speed figures and abstracts, using mostly steel, metal, sand casting, fiberglass and also bronze. He likes to imbue his work with an illusion of movement or gesture, bodies curling up or limbs reaching out to the onlooker.

Anton considers one of the highlights of his career “The Age of Grace”, an eight- foot high bronze sculpture at the Grand Central Station, NYC, which celebrated South African Heritage and was displayed on the front cover of The New York Today he spends and works the first three months of the year in his Cape studios in Strand. He shares this space with his son Lionel Smit, who followed his example and is today also considered a great artist. The rest of the year he is in his studios in Bronkhorstspruit Dam, where he oversees a dedicated work force of 14 people.

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Biography Lionel Smit

Born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1982, Lionel Smit was exposed to a world of sculpture through his father, renowned sculptor Anton Smit. By the age of twelve, having his fathers work studio adjacent to the family home, Lionel was already working in clay and considered himself primarily as a sculptor in the making. At sixteen he began to use the empty studio space his father occupied for painting, whereby this becoming his preferred medium as he was finding his own artistic identity.

Lionel started exhibiting his art straight after Pretoria’s Pro Arte School of Arts. Now, based in Strand – Cape Town, he is considered one of South Africa’s most talented artists, and is now best known for his contemporary portraiture executed through monumental canvasses and sculptures.

His art is defined by a deeply rooted symbiotic relationship between painting and sculpture. Each of Lionel Smit’s works offers us a reflection of the variety and richness that lies beneath every face we encounter in life. His subject matter is consistent – portraiture is his preferred mode and his models are handpicked out of the tapestry of his daily life.

The people he chooses to paint possess a particular aesthetic that appeals to his visual sensitivity, but nothing more in the way of social influence. However, up- scaled to many times their life size and abstracted according to Lionel’s particular technique, these faces are imbued with an immense authority that is impossible to overlook.

In regards to the bronze, his treatment of the medium reveals it to be especially well suited to the translation of his paintings into sculpture. His bronzes are created using one of the oldest known metal-forming techniques: the lost wax casting method (cire perdue). Patinas commonly available to artists working in bronze include natural and earthy browns, blacks and greens. However, considering the importance of colour to Smit in his painting, he uses alternative methods that result in a unique fusion of intensely saturated patinas onto the bronze.

Today Smit’s process as an artist remains adaptive, inventive, and physically engaging. Through this he has achieved success all over the world including sell- out exhibitions in London and Hong Kong.