William Kentridge: the line of thought, by Jon Bird (Le Monde diplomatique

The Ecologists’ Ball (1985)

Royal Academy of Arts

“My work is about a drawing process that tries to find a way through the space between what we know and what we see,” explains William Kentridge. Filling the 11 galleries of London’s Royal Academy of Arts, his epic practice is a powerful argument for a politics of aesthetics, art that addresses historical and current wrongs in (multiple) forms that engage the viewer. emotionally and intellectually.

Kentridge’s projections and installations redefine the gallery space as a studio-studio — a place of creative production and work in progress — immersing the viewer in the artist’s vision: a world of dialogue, debate , collaboration and production where ideas flow freely and find form in drawing, performance, film, dance, theatre, opera, tapestry and sculpture.

Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Kentridge studied political science in the 1970s, then moved into theatre, directing and design with the Junction Avenue Theater in Johannesburg. This formative period provided the main focus of her art – drawing as a form of knowledge and performance – and informed her critical commentary on the realities of the apartheid regime and the legacy of postcolonial inequality.

He grew up sheltered from all this, in a white, progressive and professional South African family, opposed to apartheid. Her father, Sydney Kentridge, was a prominent anti-apartheid lawyer who represented the family of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko; his mother, also a lawyer, co-founded the human rights organization Legal Resources Centre.

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Gallery view of the William Kentridge exhibition at the Royal Academy, showing ‘Johannesburg. 2nd largest city after Paris (1989)

Royal Academy of Arts

Imprint of the past on the present

Contradiction and transformation are recurring themes in his drawings, animations and theatrical performances – identified in the characters of Soho Eckstein, an aggressively miserly capitalist; Felix Teitelbaum, his alter ego, a compassionate and poetic figure; and Mrs. Eckstein, Felix’s lover. In the animated film Tide table (2003), these opposing personalities (…)

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