Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami

Smit’s First U.S. Solo Exhibition Explores Identity through Naturalism and Abstraction;

Artist Reception to take place March 15, 2018


North Miami, Fla. — Feb. 6, 2018  The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami will open its spring season with the presentation of “Obscura.” The exhibition by South African Contemporary Artist Lionel Smit will be his first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and will run from March 8 – May 6, 2018. Smit is recognized globally for his monumentally scaled portraitures depicted through mixed media.


In his works, Smit digs beneath the skin to unfold the multidimensional nature of the individual by creating colorful and inventive interpretations. Smit’s imaginative paintings, prints, sculptures, video and public installations focus on the residents of Cape Town, South Africa, in abstract and representational portraits. The frequent subjects of his works are from the ethnic Cape Malay community and are most often women.

In “Obscura,” Smit fuses gestural brushstrokes, splashed and splattered paint, and captivating pigments of color with a realistic representation of the heads and faces of his subjects on a large scale. The bold surfaces of Smit’s paintings are echoed in the clay form, which he uses to create bronze and resin portraiture sculptures. These sculptures also demonstrate the blend of naturalism and abstract expressionism, with modeled and textured surfaces.


“Morphous” is a two-headed sculpture that makes reference to the female version of the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings. The two faces depict the ability to see both the past and the future, and express how in which many ways the past shaped ourselves and the world around us. The 10-foot tall, bronze sculpture of a blue color resided in New York City’s Union Square in 2016.


Smit was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and studied sculpture from a young age with his father, Anton Smit, who is a celebrated South African sculptor. Over the past ten years, Smit has established an international following and has been featured in exhibitions all over the globe including New York City’s Union Square, the Avenue Concept in Providence, Rhode Island, National Portrait Gallery in London, and at the Helsinki Art Museum in Finland.


“We are delighted to present ‘Obscura’ by Lionel Smit for his U.S. debut,” says Natasha Colebrook Williams, MOCA’s Interim Director. “The artist draws the viewers into his portraitures by using mixed media in his paintings and sculptures. MOCA is proud to share this unique exhibition with our audience.”


Admission to MOCA is $5, but free for MOCA members and North Miami residents. An artist reception will take place on Thursday, March 15, 2018 with an admission cost of $30 to the general public, free to MOCA members and North Miami residents.


About Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences. The Museum is located at 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161. It is open Tuesday–Friday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 1–9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. (closed Mondays and major holidays). Admission to the museum is $5, and is free to MOCA members and North Miami residents. For more information, visit, call 305-893-6211 or email [email protected].

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