William Kentridge, Royal Academy Review | Catch My Job


Born in Johannesburg in 1955, Kentridge grew up under apartheid and the large charcoal drawings of the opening of the Royal Academy allude to the apartheid, brutality and corruption of that hideous regime. You could be forgiven for thinking they were by Max Beckmann, Otto Dix or George Grosz, who, after the First World War, used biting sarcasm to lash out at politicians and top brass they thought were responsible for the conflict and the fat cats who profited from it. . inside As conservationists say, 1985 (pictured below)Kentridge similarly caricatures self-serving elites and adds wild animals such as foxes, hyenas and rhinos to the mix as symbols of a society infected with greed and corruption.

Four years later he began translating his drawings into animated films. Instead of creating a separate image for each frame, he reworks the same drawing over and over – adding, altering and erasing charcoal so that each shot carries the ghostly traces of all the previous ones. You’re constantly reminded of the artist’s hand – it’s almost as if you’re looking over his shoulder as he sketches – and the images become more blurred and less distinct as marks, smudges and smudges build up. Many find his technique confusing, but to me it’s the visual equivalent of wading through mud; Freighted with its own past, each drawing seems weightier and denser.William Kentridge, The Conservationists' Ball, 1985. Charcoal, pastel and gouache on paper (triptych).  198.5 x 97.5 cm (left), 198.5 x 138.5 cm (middle), 198.5 x 97.5 cm (right).  Rembrandt Van Reason Art Foundation Collection.  Rupert Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa © William KentridgeFive of his 11 films were house-fulls. Johannesburg is the second largest city after Paris, 1989 features Soko Eckstein, a pin-striped property tycoon. After buying half of Johannesburg, he shouts into the telephone deals that will earn him a bomb but hurt thousands of people. Filling his mouth with delicacies, he slurps the rest who rush towards him in a pitiful crowd. Meanwhile, his distraught wife engages in an affair with Felix Teitelbaum, whose lewd fantasies are detailed on screen and who bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist.

Scenes relentlessly appear, transform and disappear; Everything changes, but nothing is resolved. There is no respite from the darkness. inside The city is deep, 2020 Eckstein visits an art gallery; As he contemplates the pictures, the ground beneath his feet opens up, the building begins to collapse, and the paintings turn to dust and fall from the walls. Art, it seems, offers no safe haven; It is vulnerable to destruction like everything else.

Don’t be fooled by its apparent charm Black Box/Chamber Noir2005. Projected on automated puppets that cavort inside a miniature theater, the film explores the 1908 genocide of the Herro and Nama people in Namibia by German colonialists. The transition from the murky confines of charcoal to film is a relief, but the subject matter is no less serious.

Kentridge’s penchant for layering images eventually comes into its own Notes towards a model opera2015. The three-screen film projection parodies the operas created by Chairman Mao’s wife Yang Qing, including the title Women’s red isolationGlorious revolutionary struggle and communist ideals.

Wearing a military uniform and brandishing a gun, a black ballerina pirouettes in endless circles. Carry placards bearing such meaningless maxims pause And Use air, another dancer gyrates to the sound of African drums on the leaves of a giant atlas. A man waving a red flag in front of the pages of an artist’s notebook (Main Image). bird, bird, for example, recalls sparrows being mistakenly killed to increase crop yields in China; Next, we see them fly across the pages of the accounting ledger.

And suddenly the constant layering starts to make sense. Instead of his successor’s charcoal drawing, several images can now coexist and create a wealth of ideas and resources through their combination. And the past is brought into lively dialogue without dragging the present down.William Kentridge, video still from Waiting for the Sibyl, 2020.  Single channel HD film;  9 minutes 59 seconds.  Courtesy of the artist © William Kentridge The final installation is a reprise Waiting for Sybil, 2019, a chamber opera (Image above: Detail) Featuring music by Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Kyle Shepherd. We are at the entrance to Hades where people come to question the Sibyl about their fate. He writes his answers on the page, but the wind blows them away so no one can be sure if they have the correct answer. Genomic messages appear on a large screen as people scrabble for answers. “Where Do We Put Our Hopes?”, “You’ve Got Nowhere To Go” and “Next Turn” address the uncertainty of life in general and our present moment in particular, through a poem that avoids the fearful fatalism embedded in the charcoal. Animation

Kentridge studied at the Jacques Lecoq Theater School in Paris in the early 1980s and worked as an actor and director in Johannesburg for many years. His recent return to the stage feels like a homecoming, where his many skills can finally be used to complement each other.


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