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5 amazing contemporary artists

It can be hard to keep your finger on the pulse of the contemporary art world as it is constantly evolving. Every year new artists showcase their innovative work, giving us fresh perspectives on old concepts.


Gilbert And George

Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore are two artists who joined forces to work together as the art duo Gilbert & George. Known for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks, they have lived and worked together since 1968.


Gilbert and George are known for their rejection of art elitism and their stance on “Art for All”. In 1970, their performance called The Singing Sculpture gained critical acclaim and since then their public persona as a duo has strengthened as they wear distinctive suits and appear in public only together. By 1969 they presented themselves as living sculptures and claimed their entire lives as art.


Some of their later work was often controversial, sometimes offensive and according to critics, verging on pornographic and into the 21st century their work and actions provoked both laughter and public outrage.

Over the years they have expanded to various media forms including books, film, painting, and postcards depicting a wide variety of subjects from race, to sexuality, religion, and mortality.


William Kentridge

Born in Johannesburg South Africa in 1955 to advocate parents Sydney and Felicia, William is best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films. His films are created using a meticulous process of filming a drawing, making changes and then filming it again.



William Kentridge attended the University of Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg Art Foundation. Originally trained in painting and drawing, he also studied mime and theatre. He worked as a props assistant on a television series and in 1985 he made his first animated film.

His extensive list of exhibition locations include:

  • Museum of Modern Art in New York

  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington

  • New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York

  • Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris

  • Castello di Rivoli in Italy

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

  • Deutche Guggenheim in Berlin

  • Moderna Museet in Stockholm

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art


He has received numerous awards for his work including the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film Festival in New York and the Carnegie Prize, among others.

Koen Vanmechelen

Koen Vanmechelen is an internationally acclaimed contemporary conceptual artist from Belgium who began his career in the early 1990s. As one of the most prominent contemporary artists in Belgium his work deals with biocultural diversity and identity. He brings together and explores the relation between art, science and philosophy through his work and examines the way humans live and evolve.



His revolutionary work has earned him an honorary doctorate from the University of Hasselt and a Golden Nica Hybrid Art award. Vanmechelen’s artwork ranges from paintings, drawings, photography, innovative 3D-techniques, video, installations and wooden sculptures. His belief is that art belongs in society to engage with people.



Vanmechelen has hosted exhibitions across the globe from the USA to China. In his hometown his work has been showcased at various museums, venues and art galleries such as Uitstalling. Vanmechelen lives in the northeast of Belgium and is an honorary citizen of his native town of Sint-Truiden.


Anton Smit

Anton Smit was born in the Transvaal, South Africa and entered his first sculpting competition at the age of sixteen where he won first prize. He is entirely self-taught and was awarded the first prize in the SA Association of Arts’ New Signatures Competition in 1979.



Following the roaring success of exhibitions from Cape Town to Johannesburg he decided to pursue sculpting full time to keep up with the demand for his work from galleries and private collectors.

His work comprises of towering human figures, nudes, impressive heads, masks, hands, angels, floating and stretching figures, warriors as well as abstract works, using mostly steel, metal, fiberglass and bronze.

Anton has been featured in leading galleries such as the Crake, The Uitstalling, Kraft, Olivetti, Michaelatos, Beuster Skolimowski and Everard Read, among others.

In 2003 Smit opened The Anton Smit Sculpture Park at Bronkhorstspruit Dam and in the same year he created a huge Sandstone Head, measuring 2m by 3m for a European art collector.


Anton likes to imbue his work with an illusion of movement or gesture, bodies curling up or limbs reaching out to the onlooker, inspirational “action figures” projecting tremendous emotion, a call to movement. He works with metals and stones, also creating a unique iron and polymer cast mixture, which combines metal with several other mediums.


Lionel Smit

Born to famous sculptor Anton Smit, Lionel was exposed to sculpture in his father’s studio which was adjacent to the family home. This integral part of Lionel’s upbringing led to him working in clay by age 12. As a student at Pretoria’s Pro Arte School of arts at age 16, Lionel began using an empty space within the studio for his own creations.



Best known for his monumental canvases and sculptures, Smit’s work is defined by an ongoing transition and dialogue between sculpture and painting. The foundations of his paintings begin with swatches of colour followed by an overlaid image of a face or bust usually depicted by an anonymous Cape Malay model.

Working from his art studio in Cape Town South Africa, Smits work remains inventive, emotive and physically engaging. His work has gained international attention with sold out exhibitions in London and Hong Kong.


Smit, in collaboration with Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, installed a public art installation, ‘Morphous’, in New York’s Union Square. He received a Ministerial Award from the South African Department of Culture for Visual Art.

Over the past 10 years Smit has established a substantial international following with collectors ranging from the Standard Chartered Bank to Laurence Graff Art Collection at Delaire Graff Wine Estate.



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