7 Feb 24

In Conversation With Anton Smit: The Role of Art in Developments and Public Open Spaces.

The Rainmaker Marketing Podcast is a pivotal resource in the world of real estate, developments, and urban planning. Each episode brings our listeners closer to industry specialists, offering direct access to the latest trends, innovative strategies, and expert insights. We prioritise discussions with thought leaders and visionaries, aiming to demystify the complexities of the industry and provide our audience with invaluable insights and knowledge.

In our latest podcast episode, Rainmaker Marketing’s Creative Director, Jacqui Marais, had the pleasure of delving into the artistic world of Anton Smit, a self-taught sculptor whose work has transformed landscapes in South Africa and found prominence on a global stage.  Smit’s work is synonymous with prominent property developments, which includes mixed-used schemes and precincts, shopping centres and wine farms.  His larger than life silhouettes can be seen adorning unusual places such as traffic circles, pavements, juxta-posed against modern building facades and in squares and public green spaces.  Developers such as Rabie Property Group, Liberty Two Degrees and Old Mutual have embraced Anton’s work, finding ways for his recognisable sculptures to breathe life into bricks and mortar spaces.

His journey began with local recognition in 1977 and catapulted into international fame with a significant exhibition in New York in 1994, with 35 sculptures in Grand Central Station. His story showcases a relentless pursuit of artistic expression that transcends borders and cultures.


Significance of art in public spaces

art in the park

Smit’s dedication to bringing sculptures to public spaces is a testament to his belief in the accessibility of art. His initiative of renting sculptures to adorn public spaces in Pretoria, such as Menlyn Maine, Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg, Leonards Lee Lakes and Gardens in England and Genk in Belgium, highlights an innovative approach to integrating art into community life. This model not only beautifies spaces but also democratises art, making it a part of the everyday experience for the general public.

The sculptor’s recent project, a 35-meter-long wall adorned with 500 mask-like faces under a bridge in Century City called Subway, reflects his ambition to represent humanity in its entirety. This installation, called “Landscape of the Soul” against a vibrant blue backdrop, is not just an artistic endeavour but a social statement, inviting viewers to reflect on the diversity and unity of the human experience. Smit’s work, spanning the globe, emphasises the universal language of art, with the human form as its most compelling subject.

“The human form is the crown of god’s creation the most beautiful form on earth”, says Smit.


Integrating a human element

Anton Smit

Smit’s fascination with the human form, drives his exploration of the human condition. He has gone on to delve even further, into the psyche of man, “I wanted to come to grips of what ‘man’ is and how ‘man’ lives on the planet and go on to represent this in my latest series”

His series, “Facets of Personality” and “In Moment,” explore the complexities of human nature and beauty, offering viewers a mirror to their own experiences and emotions. These works, characterised by their detailed representation and emotive power, invite introspection and a deeper understanding of the self and others.


Collaboration in the art space

The role of art in public spaces, according to Smit, is pivotal. Art enriches environments, provoking thought, and conversation among its viewers. Smit talks to the often-limited budgets for art in property developments, proposing a rental model for sculptures that has seen success in locations like Pretoria and Century City. This approach not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of these spaces but also fosters a closer connection between the community and the arts.

“These sculptures bring art to the people and people to the art, that’s the way it should be, a part of everyday life.”

Smit’s collaborative efforts further illustrate his innovative spirit. His partnership with the Cape Town Music Academy in Century City, and graffiti artist, Mars, in Nelson Mandela Square, to augment his installations with music and visual art showcases a multidisciplinary approach that enriches the viewer’s experience. These collaborations break down the barriers between different art forms, creating a cohesive and immersive experience that engages all senses.


Future plans

Looking ahead, Smit remains ambitious, with plans to expand his public art projects w

Anton Smit’s work is a beacon of creativity and innovation in the world of sculpture. His commitment to bringing art into public spaces not only beautifies these areas but also challenges and engages the public in a dialogue with art. Through his sculptures, Smit invites us to explore the depths of human emotion and experience, making art an accessible and essential part of our daily lives. As we look forward to his future projects, it’s clear that Smit will continue to push the boundaries of sculpture and public art, leaving a lasting impact on communities and the art world at large.



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