Interview

Lionel Smit -“Making art could become a very lonesome process, so in many ways the creating process has stayed the same during the lockdown”

Lionel Smith, a contemporary artist best known for his portrait paintings and sculpture of Cape Malay women, his works integrates Abstract Expressionist gestures into both the large-scale paintings and bronze sculptures. You can not ignore the magnetic pull of his earthy palettes and the many forms of the Cape Malay women who inspire him in both two and three dimensional forms. Born on October 22, 1982 in Pretoria, South Africa, he studied sculpture from a young age with his father, Anton Smit, who is himself also a celebrated South African sculptor. The younger Smit’s work has become very popular in both his home country and abroad, particularly in London and Hong Kong. His work can be found in the collections of many prominent banks and wineries across South Africa. Smit lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

Lionel spoke with Ayodele Ojo of onefinearts.com on his Studio practice and inspirations.

Lionel Smit

Q- What was it like growing up in your father’s studio?

As a child I use to hang around my father’s studio a lot, as it was adjacent to our home. I was constantly surrounded by, not only my father and his sculptures, but many of his apprentices and artist friends. I think this subconsciously influenced me quite a bit, as this was my normal. Everything evolved from there. 

Crackhead

Q-You borrowed a lot of inspiration from the Cape Malay women in your  paintings and sculptures, what is the attraction other than the hybrid identity you spoke about so much?

I have always been intrigued and influenced by the human form. Growing up, I used to paint many self-portraits, as well as the people in my environment. It started off with friends and family, and developed into me approaching people I see wherever I may be. I moved to Cape Town in 2008, and this is where I started painting people in my “new” environment, which happened to be many Cape Malay women.

Q-You speak about identity and the way it shapes humanity, do you believe the global identity crisis have any solution?

I’m sure there is a solution. And however simple it may seem, the implementation thereof will be the challenging part. 

Q-You have been quoted as saying you explore the hybrid identity of the Cape Malay women within South Africa’s psycho-social landscape, will you consider yourself a politically inclined artist?

No, I tend to steer away from the political connotations. I rather focus on the idea of emotion and the human experience that connects us all.

Q-Why do you make most of your works monumental?

I enjoy the challenge of working on bigger landscapes. It just comes more naturally to me. As my studio has gotten bigger, so has my work.

Q-What is your view on being an artist in this current moment?

Making art could become a very lonesome process, so in many ways the creating process has stayed the same during the lockdown. On the other hand, I tend to draw energy from other people when I’m not working, and due to lockdown, the lack of this interaction has influenced my work. I found myself working on a more meditative way and for some reason, this changed various aspects of my work, like the colour palette.

In general, I think it’s quite challenging to be an artist (especially up-and-coming artist) in this kind of pandemic where galleries and studios have to close down. Galleries play a big part in getting the right people to see your work during group or solo exhibitions. Viewing work in person translates much differently digitally, it really is a different experience.

With so many brilliant artists from all over the world, social media has made it a much more competing industry. 

My Beloved Father

Q-What is your life Philosophy?

Always believe in yourself, work hard to make your dreams a reality and remember to enjoy all the finer things in life.

Q-What advice will you give to upcoming artists?

Keep practicing and pushing yourself to be your best version. Many doors may get shut, but don’t give up. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom and work your way up to where you wish to be. It’s not an easy journey, but every small success is a victory and gets you one step closer to reaching your dreams.

Q-If you are asked to pick just two out of your favorite works, which two will it be?

This constantly changes. Currently it is probably Expand and Reposition #1 from two recent exhibitions I did.

Q-Are you religious, or rather what do you believe in?

I am a Christian.


Karoline Schneider-“I have always judged artists by their art and never paid attention to who they were, where they came from, what gender or skin colour they had”

Karoline Schneider is not your run of the mill artist, and refused to be classified as one, she is intensely talented and creativity oozes all over her artistic endeavours, born in 1970, in Halle, East Germany, and a graduate from the University of Arts, Berlin and Film University, Babelsberg, Karoline started her working life as a graphic artist and animation filmmaker with love of photography. Since 2008, Karoline has been intensively involved in photographic processes.Her most recent works combine images with text and installation to create pieces of complex narrative. Her dry point etchings are fantastic using simple lines to draw up a storm.

Karoline is not one giving to bragging about her achievements and she specifically said she is not competitive by nature, but the list of her winnings and achievements is still rolling, check here.
Karoline lives and works in Berlin. She teaches at various art universities and institutions, and co-curates in galleries.

It is a pleasure and privilege to take a little bit out of her hectic time to talk with Ayodele Ojo of onefinearts.com

Karoline Portrait
Karoline Schneider

1) Which do you prefer to be called: a Photographer, or an Artist?

I don’t think in categories at all, I just use the tools I need for my pictures. In general, I’m probably more of an artist.
When someone asks me what I am, I usually – just to make it easy – say “lecturer at art University”.

Untitled Photo Etching

2) Your photographic process is so profound and I am so in love with your drawings, how did you arrive at your story?

I have always drawn. It always fascinated me. My drawings reduced to a single line over time. So I worked with drypoint, because that’s where the line is most intense and focused.
At some point I picked up the camera. I somehow found it easier to photograph pictures and I was able to include and apply another aspect here: the so-called “objectivity” of photography.


This raised the question of what makes a painting and what makes a photograph a good picture. These are two different things, although both are two-dimensional images on a piece of paper.

To come back to the question: ultimately things develop, we make decisions both consciously and unconsciously. Had I not been dissatisfied with my art, I might have never started to take photographs; if I hadn’t liked my photographs I would have tried something different…

Awa

3) Do you feel women artists have been fully recognized in the world stage?

This is a question I had never asked myself, I have always judged artists by their art and never paid attention to who they were, where they came from, what gender or skin colour they had. As with many things, it is the initial sensitization to certain topics that creates awareness – and then a change. (ME TOO, BLACK LIVES MATTER)
If I had to list which artists have impressed and influenced me, the list would contain just as many women as men. Nonetheless, it is true that women have always found it much more difficult to assert themselves – and all those who were not rich, white and male – and that is still not balanced to this day.

A glass of Water

4) Your photographic constructs are not only mesmerizing, it stands out, have you always considered yourself competitive?

First of all, I have to say that – for me – art and competition have nothing in common, quite the opposite. I refused to take part in competitions for a long time.
It is a deep need for me to take pictures and it makes me happy. I prefer to lock myself in and work.
To be truly free, I decided not to earn my living as an artist. So I taught at art universities. However, to be able to ‘say something’ and to be accepted as an artist one has to be known appreciated by the public.

Tereza with Scarf

5) Do you consider your photographs an extension of your paintings?

Yes. As a drawer I came to understand that I don’t have to paint my paintings, I have to photograph them. Taking photographs I realised that I didn’t need to run after pictures like a hunter in the outside world, I have to create them from my inner world. So both sides came together.

6) In your “Untold Stories series” you combined portraiture with abstraction and sometime with still life objects, Is this a deliberate construct to explain the human story?

I don’t aim at any specific statement in my pictures. I’m driven by fascination. I want to invoke stories in the mind of the beholder. This all starts with an idea, a person and/or an object. I create situations and to do so I combine subjects with objects and gestures. The images are created in a process – it is always an interaction of idea and aesthetics. All in all I am concerned with a situation, a state and never with the apperance of a personal portrait, although the person dominates the picture.

Taren -Dry point Etching

7) Your use of the wet plate process has opened a vista rarely explored, do you think younger photographers have abandoned all for technology?

No, I do not think so. On the contrary, technology enables many more people to get creative with the medium of photography.
Basically, I think there are different approaches.
You can start from the existing technology and develop the content, adapt it.

Or you can start from an idea and adapt the technology.
Ultimately, three things always come together: content / idea, form / technology and executor / creator. If all three fit together / work well together, something can arise.

Dotty

8) How do you manage to combine a photographic process with etching?

This is a topic of great interest to me.

A few years ago I tried very hard to establish photo etching as a medium for my pictures and to develop it for myself as a tool – I failed terribly on the technology side. But I am not giving up. I definitely want to use the process of etching, especially the abstraction and sensuality of this medium for my pictures.

Also, I am very interested in combining the content of these two techniques as they differ greatly. In the CUT ME A SMILE series I combine different media, such as texts, photos, graphics, objects and much more. They work well side by side. It becomes difficult as soon as you try to mix them.

Some time ago I saw an exhibition with pictures by Roger Ballen and Wolfgang Petrick, both of whom worked with drawing and photography in one picture. Ballen has integrated drawings into his photos (by making his drawings part of his photographic scenery), Petrick has integrated photos into his drawings (by glueing the actual photographic prints into his drawings), but one medium is always dominant: Ballen takes photos, Petrick makes drawings.

Karoline’s website is at karolineschneider.de


Oliver Enwonwu-“I am inspired by my father’s legacy”

Although he may be the son of celebrated Nigerian pioneer modernist Ben Enwonwu MBE, Oliver never brags about it, he is a no push-over himself having made his way in life as an artist, curator, art administrator, author, writer, publisher and brand strategist. A dapper dresser who can easily blend in with the crowd on Oxford or Wall Street, a look through his resume shows that he has paid his dues,with layers of achievement to prove it.. He is what can be rightly labelled as an artist’s artist with several creative souls under the management of his gallery.

Oliver

Oliver is the founder, executive director, and trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He is also the president of the Society of Nigerian Artists, director of Omenka Gallery and CEO of Revilo Company Ltd., publishers of Omenka, Africa’s first arts, business and luxury-lifestyle magazine.  Enwonwu sits on the board of several organisations including the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria and the Lagos Biennial.

He took time off his busy schedule to talk with onefinearts’s Ayodele Ojo glowingly on memories of his father and what they shared, as well as making career choices, and the happenings in the Nigeria art circuit,he also shared some of his recent paintings.

Q- As the son of a legend, in what ways did he influence your life?

Besides the obvious, in terms of the themes of identity, mythology and the socio-political that I engage, I learned from my father discipline, hard work and steadfastness, as well as excellence and pride in whatever I do. In addition, I picked up from him his elegant dress sense and style.

The Black Victoria, 2017, oil on canvas, 60.96 x 30.48cm

Q- Have you ever felt intimidated by your father’s legacy?

No, I never felt intimidated. Like many artists working in Nigeria today, I am inspired by his legacy.

Q- If you didn’t become an artist, what profession would you have chosen?

I first studied biochemistry then went on to study geophysics before studying and gaining a Masters in art history. If I hadn’t become an artist, I probably would have settled for a career as a geophysicist.

The Enchantment, 2016, oil on canvas, 178 x 140cm

Q-You have travelled a lot as an artist and gallerist, what is your view of the Nigerian art circuit?

The Nigerian art circuit has in the last decade grown exponentially with regular exhibitions by an increasing number of professionally-run galleries, few of which attend some of the most prestigious international art fairs. There is also a strong domestic secondary market and on the international scene, Nigerian art fetches staggering amounts at major auction houses like Bonhams, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and PIASA. Indeed, the first two have dedicated sales to modern and contemporary art from the African continent in which, Nigerian art features prominently.

The Belle of Senegal, 2014, oil on canvas, 203 x 109cm

Furthermore, there is a growing number of art foundations, residencies, alternative spaces, as well as an art fair and a biennale, all aiming to encourage new creative possibilities, foster cross-cultural relations and a cross-fertilisation of ideas.

Q-What is the criteria for taking on new artists in Omenka Gallery?

Omenka is interested in artists who are able to demonstrate a strong commitment to their work. It is important to us that the artist has developed a philosophical approach that can be sustained over a long trajectory.

Ebony, 2020, oil on canvas, 62.5 x 62.5cm

Q-What is your process as a painter?

I begin with preliminary conceptual drawings on my canvas. The ephemeral charcoal marks are then made more permanent by outlining with a thin wash. When dry, I block in my masses of shapes and shadows. Next, I apply my colours, working in layers from lean to fat, leaving the highlights for the very last.

Q- Do you sculpt too? if no why?

No, I do not sculpt as I find it rather tedious and would prefer to specialise in painting.

Q-How do you unwind after your many roles?

I love reading and practicing karate.


“Eni Blackman in European kitchen” spits fire

Posted by onefinearts.com

Emmanuel Eni-is more popularly know in the European art circle as “Eni Blackman in European kitchen”, one of the most outstanding contemporary artists from Africa and the Western world who works and live in Germany.. He took time off to speak on art,colonialism and recent events in his life with Ayodele Ojo

Emmanuel Eni

Emmanuel Eni spoke with onefinearts in a no-holds barred interview on his art, beliefs and what drives his mojo. Famous for his fearless, soul-searching, philosophical art. His works have been described as an iconoclast of uncommon proportions. The crystallization of art in its various media, which he espouse as “Contemporary Baroque Art”.

He is an author and performer of Blackman in European kitchen, the creator of the Basic Metric Scale For Art Products in the “Death of the Curator” drama. He has also been credited as the inventor of New Light – Painting Art.

He oozes so much confidence, in his utterances and projections without caring whose ox is gored, and has garnered a lot of accolades over the years.

What has been the driving force in your art?

Professionality, money and fame in that order.

Did the fact that you are black affect your acceptance even though you’re married to a German woman in Germany as a country?

I have been long successful, before I even though of-and became married, The more they discriminate the more I fire them with my works.

What is your message in the face of disease and famine in the world?

Disease and farmine worldwide will remain as long as the west refuse to give back all the so called developing country, that they annexed and occupy since the slavery days. The Western world must work for themselves and find ways to finance their credit, money and tax oriented system, other than continue stealing and coercion from other worlds especially from Africa, caribbean and Latin America.

Can the art institutions be changed by new events especially in the face of “Black Lives Matter” movement in the world?

The art institution will unfortunately not be changed through the events of Black lives matter because of the institutional Racism of the West. The concept of reducing all other art in their origin in order to buttress and submit the superiority of Western Art and culture as against others. As you see from the oppression of negative category placed on other arts, especially Africa art- which ironically is the source of all Art froms which every western Art is primarily from. The change in art institutions can only come in favour of non western originated art through the pioneering of individual prowess in the particular art, and through self promotion and sourcing.

What has been the driving force behind your art?

The driving force in my art is defiance, my calling and of course money and fame.

Eni studied art at Igbobi College in Lagos, from 1982 to 1984. He then studied fine arts at the Polytechnic Auchi, where he earned his Ordinary National Diploma in fine arts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sculpture from University of Benin, Nigeria.

Eni has exhibited his work at several biennales including Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, the Biennale in Dakar (Dak’Art) and documenta 12 in Kassel Germany. He is a speaker at both private and public conferences. His work is known in the Western world, most famously his philosophical art. Eni is the writer and performer of Blackman in European Kitchen, the creator of the “Basic metric scale for art products”Death of the Curator drama, and the inventor of “light painting art”.

Recently listed in www.Forbes.com, IMDB and Celebtrendsnow as one of the Most popular and “Most succesful Artists 2020”