Smit’s MORPHOUS to Grace Union Square Park through April 2017


To welcome MORPHOUS to Union Square’s triangle park, we were joined by the artist, Lionel Smit, one of South Africa’s most noteworthy young artists debuting his first public art installation in the United States. Smit’s bronze sculpture is located at the intersection of 15th Street and Union Square East, and will be on view through April 2017. The art is brought to the park in collaboration with CYNTHIA REEVES Gallery, NYC Parks and the Union Square Partnership.

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NYC Parks’ Elizabeth Masella, artist Lionel Smit, USP Executive Director Jennifer Falk and Cynthia Reeves from CYNTHIA REEVES GALLERY at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“It is such an honor to welcome renowned sculptor Lionel Smit’s first public art installation in the United States to Union Square during our 40th anniversary celebration year,” said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “As we reflect on four decades of creating partnerships and serving our community, we appreciate just how far Union Square has come and how our past has shaped this neighborhood’s bright future. Smit’s inspiring piece is sure to captivate the hundreds of thousands who visit Union Square every day.”


Union Square Park was home to the first public art installation by NYC Parks in 1967, and over the years has displayed more than 40 pieces of work. Smit’s MORPHOUS has already drawn curiosity, excitement and intrigue from all who witness it.


The Cynthia Reeves Gallery shares that MORPHOUS is an exploration of hybrid identity and its ever-changing nature within South Africa’s social landscape. This particular piece evokes a question of time, of past and future, and the balance point at which his country finds itself as it embarks on the next chapter of a post-Apartheid and post-Nelson Mandela South Africa, a future South Africa. This “double-vision” is a foretelling and an acknowledgement of what has already passed, a societal commentary without judgment. The figures are charged with an emotive and gestural energy, a hallmark of Smit’s evocative work.

“My fascination with portraiture and the abstraction of color plays a dualistic role in my artistic expression and creation,“ Smit shared. “The combination of the representation of human form, and the mercurial quality of emotions, translated by color, line and form, is what inspires the imaginative and abstract essence of the work.“

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The installation is made possible through the generous support of the CYNTHIA-REEVES Gallery and is part of NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program. CYNTHIA-REEVES represents an international roster of established artists who share a process-apparent sensibility in their art. The gallery exhibits internationally at leading contemporary art fairs in all major cities, including New York, San Francisco, Miami, London and Hong Kong. For more details about the artist and the installation, visit cynthia-reeves.com. For more info about NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program, visit nyc.gov/parks/art.