William Kentridge is a contemporary South African artist. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955, Kentridge studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg from 1973 to 1976, and the Johannesburg Art Foundation from 1976 to 1978. Kentridge still resides in Johannesburg where his studio is located.
Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation and performance, Kentridge translates political events into powerful analogies that capture the attention of audiences worldwide.
“In a now-signature technique, Kentridge photographs his charcoal drawings and paper collages over time, recording scenes as they evolve,” reads a biography of Kentridge on art21.com. “Working without a script or storyboard, he plots out each animated film, preserving every addition and erasure.”
His work has been featured in major exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and many others. He has garnered international acclaim for his interdisciplinary practice, which meshes the worlds of visual art, film and theater in a series of powerful installations. These environments are used as a stage which engulfs the audience through compositions made up of moving images, music and sculptural objects.
His newest collection, “More Sweetly Play the Dance,” made its North American museum premiere at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The exhibit will be on display through May 20.
“This powerful film installation encircles the viewer with seven screens, on which a procession of travelers passes across a charcoal-drawn animated landscape,” reads a press release on the museum’s website. “The immersive panorama hints at multiple histories, evoking a ‘danse macabre,’ a jazz funeral, an exodus and a journey. Accompanied by a brass band, the film references medieval manuscripts and the storylines of refuge throughout history.”
The collection combines silhouettes with the artist’s signature animated charcoal drawings. Kentridge’s work often starts on a single piece of paper — drawing and erasing, incorporating new elements and photographing his compositions of each state. These images are then fused together to create animated figures which move from screen to screen, bringing the film to life.
“Presenting this spectacular new work by William Kentridge is evidence of an artist in his prime,” said Cameron Kitchin, the museum’s Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert director. “The relevance of the work to today’s civic discourse is essential and revelatory for our visitors and educators. The Cincinnati Art Museum continues its unwavering commitment to inquiries into contemporary art from all cultures.”
“My concern,” he wrote in “A Dream of Love Reciprocated” in 2014, “has been both with the existential solitude of the walker, and with social solitude—lines of people walking in single file from one country to another, from one life to an unknown future.”