William Kentridge is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent contemporary artists, internationally acclaimed for his films, drawings, theatre and opera productions. He is also an innovative and prolific printmaker who studied etching at the Johannesburg Art Foundation; printmaking has remained central to his work ever since.
In the past 25 years he has produced more than 400 prints, including etchings, engravings, aquatints, silkscreens, linocuts and lithographs, often experimenting with challenging formats and combinations of techniques. This major exhibition includes 100 prints in all media, from 1988 to the present, focusing on experimental and serial works. His distinctive use of light and shadow and silhouettes, his concern with memory and perspective, and his absorption in literary texts, are all strongly in evidence.
A centre-piece is Portage (2000), an accordion-folded multi-panelled book, 4 metres long, with torn paper silhouetted figures collaged onto unbound pages of the French encyclopedia Le Nouveau Larousse Illustré. The figures, like those in his animated masterpiece, Shadow Procession, flow from left to right, some dancing, some bearing possessions on their backs. They are evocative of the displaced migrant workers in apartheid-era South Africa and the plight of refugees worldwide, but also paradoxically, the exuberant atmosphere of carnival. The procession is one of Kentridge’s great themes, ultimately a symbol of humanity’s journey through life
A Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre, London
William Kentridge Biography
William Kentridge (b. 1955, Johannesburg, South Africa) studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He was a founding member of the Free Filmmakers Co-operative in 1988. In 1998, a major retrospective exhibition opened at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. A second exhibition, co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, took place in 2001. Kentridge has participated in a number of international biennales and in Documenta X (1997) and XI (2002). He has been the recipient of numerous prizes including the Kaiserring Prize (2003), the Carnegie Prize, the Carnegie International (2000), Standard Bank Young Artist Award (1987), and the Red Ribbon Award for Short Fiction (1982). He lives and works in Johannesburg.