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William Kentridge



Artist 122

William Kentridge Darkness Sculptural mark making



William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kentridge, who is celebrated internationally for his prints, animated films, drawings and theatre productions, continues to live and work in Johannesburg.



The artist undergoes a self- reflexive journey, tracing the effects of Apartheid and Colonialism in South Africa. His animated films are set in the exploited industrial and mining landscapes around Johannesburg. These locations symbolise a history of abuse and injustice.



The characters of his films are an autobiographical and fictionalised fusion that relate to his own narrative as a South African. Rendered in an expressive and gestural style in black charcoal and ink, Kentridge’s drawings undergo multiple erasures and additions to produce film stills.


This palimpsest of gestural marks in each film still speaks of Kentridge’s interest in political art, as an art of ambiguity, contradiction and uncertainty. Furthermore, this successive drawing technique figuratively symbolises time, change, repression, and selective memory.



Besides his hand-drawn animated films, Kentridge is also a theatre enthusiast. From 1975- 1991 he belonged to the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in Johannesburg and Soweto. He has collaborated numerous times with the Handspring Puppet Company, as a set designer, director and actor.


Abject a sense of uneasiness can be created in many ways. From a material perspective Kentridge’s use of charcoal and black ink create dark landscapes. His use of the materials creates a lot of tension in his work. Further he captured a lot of the abject of Apartheid through his work over the years.



His work reflects a manipulation of darkness and using it as a form of mark making.


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