DISCOVER THE INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED WORKS OF PROLIFIC SCULPTOR ANTON SMIT

World-renowned sculptor Anton Smit invites The Insider SA into his studio to share his process and how he’s preserving his legacy.

Internationally acclaimed for his ability to capture the essence of mankind and our relationship to the world through his work, Anton Smit is a prolific South African artist best known for his overwhelming heads and monumental sculptures that evoke a myriad of emotions to mirror the complex nature of existence in all its suffering and glory.

His body of work also comprises human figures, nudes, masks, hands, angels, floating and stretching figures, warriors as well as abstract works in steel, metal, stones, a unique iron and polymer cast mixture, and bronze.  

“I read a book about Michelangelo and I thought ‘Wow, this is amazing. This guy must be an angel from heaven.’ Only later did I find out that he was a man – just like me, at which time I said to myself, ‘this must be the most difficult thing that a man must do’ – to make stuff like this. And that’s when I decided to dedicate my life to becoming a sculptor, and I did,” says Anton Smit.  

Anton’s family didn’t have the means to send him to study at university, but this didn’t hamper his goal. He taught himself by devouring all the books he could find on art and how to create sculptures.

“A good thing that my dad did, was that he got me a job at the police museum. There were artists working there, and they taught me a few tricks on how to make a plaster mould etcetera.”

Anton’s sculptures exhibited at Grand Provence. (PHOTOS: Charles Russel)

Keen to see Anton’s process first-hand and what he’s currently busy with, we paid a visit to his main workspace in Bronkhorstspruit.  

Anton is currently working on a new range, called the Nubian series, that reflects the inner workings and beauty of Africa. 

“The big beauty of one of the pieces in this series is that the inner cuts reflect light and it’s really attractive that way,” shares Anton. 

On the northern side of the Bronkhorstspruit Dam you’ll find the three-hectare grounds that make up The Anton Smit Sculpture Park – a unique outdoor exhibition which is a mere 40 minutes drive from Pretoria and 60 minutes from Johannesburg. Set against a backdrop of natural stone formations, manicured lawns and succulent gardens, the space which includes an Art Café and coffee shop, provides a lovely environment to view the expansive collection of monumental sculptures and exhibitions.

“My wife and I decided to build this up and leave it as a legacy for the whole country, for anybody to come and visit. These sculptures will stay here forever… This park represents my whole life’s career and this I want to leave it the way it is, together with everything that I’ve build here.”

Anton’s work, from his life-life sculptures to the more abstract pieces speak in their own language. Their authenticity makes them digestible to the viewer who relates to its universal themes. It is for these reasons that Anton Smit is considered a true South African master.

Anton’s sculptures exhibited at Century City. (PHOTOS: Michael Dei Cont)

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